‘Strongly opposed’: European powers condemn Israeli settlements | Israeli-Palestinian conflict news


Ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy have joined the US in saying that planned expansions in the occupied West Bank will increase tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Foreign ministers from five Western countries said they were “deeply concerned” by the far-right Israeli government’s decision to proceed with the construction of thousands of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy on Tuesday followed the US in condemning the planned expansion.

“We strongly oppose unilateral actions that make the situation worse. Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians It undermines efforts to achieve a negotiated bilateral settlement,” they said in a statement.

“We continue to support a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East that must be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt also condemned the Israeli plan.

“Israel’s policy of settlement in occupied territories is contrary to international law and must be stopped,” Heitfeldt told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

Israeli settlement plans Blame Drawn From Israel’s neighbors Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

But Israel’s hardline security minister Itamar Ben-Gwir He said he would like to see more Jewish settlements. “The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel,” he said in a video message.

‘Differences are allowed’

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet unanimously 9 settlements legalizedand said it would soon authorize additional construction on existing settlements.

Ben-Gvir adds: This is our doctrine. Nine settlements is nice, but still not enough. we want more. ”

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said about 10,000 new homes will be approved.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s decision, but gave no indication that the US would take action against Israel.

Smotrich responded to Blinken’s rebuke by saying that his government had “made our position clear to the American people” and that “differences are permissible, even among friends.”

Ultranationalists, who oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, make up a large part of Israel’s new government, settlement construction It has the highest priority.

Smotrich, a religious ultranationalist settler, said he and his allies are “committed to completely removing restrictions on buildings” in the occupied West Bank.

A longtime settler leader, Smotrich has been promised authority over the defense agency responsible for building West Bank settlements as part of an association agreement with Netanyahu.

He said that once he received these mandates, he would act to “normalize” the lives of the more than half a million Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.

“Don’t worry too much”

Rami Khouri of the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston said it remains to be seen whether Americans and Europeans are “seriously” about applying international law to Israelis.

“Or are they just going to make a statement when Israel does something illegal and criminal? Israel has been doing this since 1947 by seizing Palestinian land. It’s a historical trend that’s actually calculated,” Khouri said.

Statements by the West will have little impact on Israeli hardliners, he told Al Jazeera.

“They have never had real sanctions or accountability, so they don’t really care…The Israelis have never been pressured, so they keep doing what they do.” .”

Israel occupied the West Bank along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians are seeking those territories for future independent states.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. About 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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