The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on Tuesday warned of the deteriorating situation in Palestine following a trip to Israel and the West Bank.
“I saw how serious the security situation is for Palestinians,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council, noting she had heard about “Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians, ransacking homes and destroying property in the West Bank".
“This is an issue that I discussed extensively with Israeli counterparts,” she said.
Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians have risen alarmingly this year.
The UN reported that settlers carried out 273 attacks against Palestinians or their property in the first half of the year, compared to 370 total incidents for all of 2020 and 340 incidents in 2019.
“I was told how many Palestinian families fear eviction from their homes because it is nearly impossible to get building permits as settlements expand,” she said.
“The practice has reached a critical juncture and it is now undermining even the very viability of a negotiated two-state solution.”
Ms Thomas-Greenfield's criticism of Israeli settlements is some of the most pointed yet to come from an official in President Joe Biden's administration yet.
Still, she expressed solidarity with Israel against attacks by militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
“I saw first-hand how serious the security situation is for Israel. It is subjected to regular attacks by terrorist organisations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, both of whom are funded by Iran,” she said.
“The impact of Iran’s regional malfeasance, nuclear aspirations and hatred for Israel cannot be ignored.”
She also relayed Israel’s concerns about what it perceives to be an inherent bias against it at the UN.
“They interpret the overwhelming focus on Israel in this body as a denial of Israel’s right to exist and an unfair focus on this one country — and they are correct,” she said.
“We should have open meetings on Lebanon and meet on Iran more regularly. Israel does not define the Middle East.”