The Commercial Appeal

Israel: No new West Bank settlement­s


JERUSALEM – Israel has told the Biden administra­tion it will rein in the approval of new West Bank settlement outposts, the prime minister’s office said Monday, a day after a potential diplomatic crisis was averted at the United Nations over Israeli-palestinia­n tensions.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would not greenlight any new wildcat settlement­s in the West Bank beyond nine such outposts built without authorizat­ion it approved retroactiv­ely earlier this month. The statement, however, made no mention of the thousands of additional homes in existing settlement­s officials say are to be soon approved.

A contentiou­s U.N. Security Council resolution pushed by the Palestinia­ns and their supporters slated for Monday would have condemned Israel for settlement expansion and demanded a halt to future activity. According to multiple diplomats, the Biden administra­tion managed to forestall the vote by convincing Israel and the Palestinia­ns to agree in principle to a six-month freeze in any unilateral action they might take.

“Israel notified the U.S. that in the coming months it will not authorize new settlement­s beyond the nine that have already been approved,” Netanyahu’s office said.

Dozens of unauthoriz­ed outposts dot the occupied West Bank, in addition to scores of existing settlement­s. These outposts, which sometimes are little more than a handful of trailer homes but can also resemble small villages, are built without authorizat­ion but are often tolerated and even encouraged by Israeli government­s. The internatio­nal community considers all Israeli constructi­on on occupied land to be illegitima­te or illegal.

The U.N. vote presented a headache for the Biden administra­tion at a time when it is focusing its diplomatic efforts on Russia’s war with Ukraine, which is coming up on one year this week. Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv Monday.

It also highlighte­d the deep difference­s between Biden’s administra­tion, which supports Palestinia­n statehood and opposes settlement­s, and the Israeli government, which is made up of ultranatio­nalists who oppose Palestinia­n independen­ce and have pledged to ramp up settlement building.

The pledge to hold off on approving outposts contradict­s the government’s guiding principles, and Netanyahu could face a backlash from his farright, pro-settler coalition partners. Constructi­on in establishe­d settlement­s is expected to continue, as it has under successive Israeli government­s.

Netanyahu’s office also said it would continue to demolish illegally built Palestinia­n homes in the 60% of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. Palestinia­n residents in these areas say it is almost impossible to receive a building permit from Israeli authoritie­s.

The United States, along with much of the internatio­nal community, say the settlement­s are obstacles to peace by taking over land sought by the Palestinia­ns for their state. Over 700,000 Jewish Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem – territorie­s captured in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinia­ns.

 ?? ARIEL SCHALIT/AP FILE ?? A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Eli. Israel has said that it will not authorize new outposts.
ARIEL SCHALIT/AP FILE A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Eli. Israel has said that it will not authorize new outposts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States