US & Egypt Denounce Approval of New Units in West Bank Settlements

Washington, DC (IMEMC) – The United States Department of State as well as the Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned Thursday the Israeli government’s approval of plans to construct 300 housing units in the illegal settlement of Beit El, built on Palestinians’ property near the city of Ramallah.

Deputy spokesperson of the US State Department, Mark Toner, said he is deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s announcement to build some 300 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, as well as hundreds [500] of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

WAFA reports that Toner reiterated the United States’ position against settlements construction and expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

He said, “Settlement expansion threatens the two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated resolution to the conflict. We continue to urge the Israeli government to refrain from unhelpful actions that undercut the possibility of a two-state solution.”

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said such a decision obstructs international efforts to revive peace talks based on the two-state solution and the international terms of reference.

Bader Abdul-Ati, spokesman of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, warned that Israel’s decision goes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant United Nations’ treaties, which prohibit the occupying power from conducting geographic or demographic changes in the territories it occupies.

Though it has been Israel’s strongest ally worldwide, the United States’ firm position was that settlement activity in the West Bank handicaps efforts made to revive peace talks with the Palestinians and undermines peace based on a two-state solution. It has continuously expressed concern over Israel’s settlement construction and expansion.

Photo Credit Marwan Wadi

Photo Credit Marwan Wadi

The Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice have all confirmed that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and other settlement-related activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal under international law.