Blinken 'deeply concerned' by Israeli settlement plans

Benjamin Netanyahu's government plans to build about 10,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank

Israel's security cabinet announced it would legalise nine settlements in the occupied West Bank following a series of attacks in East Jerusalem. AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply concerned” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to build close to 10,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu, who took office at the end of 2022, said on Sunday that the settlement plans were being made in response to Palestinian violence.

His office said a committee would meet this week “to approve the construction of new homes in existing settlements”, The Associated Press reported.

As part of the move, Israel will legalise nine outposts that were built without authorisation.

The US opposes the construction of settlements on territory belonging to Palestinians.

“We are deeply troubled by Israel’s decision yesterday to advance reportedly nearly 10,000 settlement units and to begin a process to retroactively legalise nine outposts in the West Bank that were previously illegal under Israeli law,” Mr Blinken said in a statement.

Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem — in pictures

“Like previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, we strongly oppose such unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby echoed the sentiments, though neither he nor Mr Blinken said whether Washington would take action on the issue.

A representative for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said such a move would “further undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution”, The Associated Press reported.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 9:13 PM