Israel faced harsh criticism from the U.S. and Europe after announcing plans to allow thousands of new settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The decision was seen as an unnecessary provocation just months after the Israeli clash with Palestine. (See “SPECIAL REPORT: THE GAZA WAR.”)
Ned Price, the spokesman for the State Department, called the plans “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and ensure calm,” CNN reported. He said the administration strongly opposes the expansion of settlements.
The report also pointed to James Cleverly, the U.K.’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa, who called these new settlements “illegal under international law and present an obstacle to peace and stability.”
An Israeli defense ministry planning committee approved 3,000 new settlement homes, which is the first such move under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to the Associated Press. Bennett took over the role from Benjamin Netanyahu in June after forming a coalition government. These homes will be “deep inside the West Bank,” The New York Times reported. There has been some infighting in the coalition government—which includes a Palestinian-Israeli member—about the plans.
Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, wrote a column in The Jerusalem Post calling the Biden administration’s attacks “discriminatory and antisemitic.” He accused the EU and Washington of not uttering a sound over the “60,000 illegal Palestinian-Arab buildings erected with EU funding in the areas of Judea/Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction.”
The Times’ report pointed out that Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war in 1967. Critics of Israel accuse Tel Aviv of essentially stealing the land from the Palestinians “whose families had long held it but could not prove ownership to Israel’s satisfaction.”
France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden issued a joint statement that Israel should cancel its decision to build in the settlements, The Times of Israel reported.
“We urge the Government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance plans for the construction of around 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank,” the foreign ministries of the 12 said.
TRENDPOST: While Israel calls them “settlements,” they are illegal land grabs under international law. They violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 that states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
The UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice, and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention have all affirmed the Fourth Geneva Convention applies, that this is occupied territory, and Israeli settlements there are illegal.
Trends Journal has reported on the settlements in the tense region. (See “ISRAEL TO BUILD MORE ‘SETTLEMENTS,” and “ISRAEL ACCUSED OF APARTHEID BY HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH.”
TREND FORECAST: Since Neftali Bennett was named prime minister, the Trends Journal predicted that he would bring “more of the same” to the region. (See “ISRAEL’S GOVERNMENT: BOMBS VS. BALLOONS.”)
We reported that Bennett, who will only serve two years as prime minister under the coalition’s arrangement, has indicated that he will take a bellicose approach to Gaza. He said in an alleged interview back in 2018 that if he were the county’s defense minister, he would enact a “shoot-to-kill” policy with Gaza for those who breach the barrier wall.
He was asked what he would do if those breaching the wall were children and he responded that he would kill them, too. “They are not children—they are terrorists,” he said.
The Biden administration has taken a tougher approach toward Israel and the settlements than the Trump administration. The president has been under increased pressure by the progressive wing of his own party about the U.S.’s relationship with Tel Aviv, which they say comes at the expense of Palestine.
But even with the Biden administration, it seems like more of the same.
A source close to Bennett told The Times of Israel that the Biden administration doesn’t care about the new building expansion, and will not prevent future similar moves.
“Contrary to the impression they’re trying to make, the Americans don’t care that much about the Ministry of Construction and Housing’s decision, and they have no problem tolerating it,” the source said, the paper reported.