US Canada and European powers reject Israeli settlement permits

US, Canada and European powers reject Israeli settlement permits – Portal

JERUSALEM, Feb 14 (Portal) – The foreign ministers of four European countries and Canada joined Washington on Tuesday in opposing a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to authorize nine outposts for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States issued a joint statement expressing concern over plans announced by Israel on Sunday.

“We firmly oppose unilateral actions that only serve to increase tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to reach a negotiated two-state solution,” they said.

Later, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Ottawa was also firmly opposed to settlement expansion, adding that “such unilateral action jeopardizes efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

On Sunday, Israel retroactively approved nine settler outposts in the West Bank and announced mass construction of new homes in established settlements, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to say he was “deeply concerned”.

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Israel’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, but Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, from the stubborn religious-nationalist bloc in Netanyahu’s government, said he wanted to go further.

“That is our mission. That is our doctrine,” said Ben-Gvir. “Nine settlements are nice, but not enough. We want a lot more,” he said in a video message.

Most world powers consider the settlements Israel has built on land it seized in a 1967 war with Arab powers illegal.

Israel denies this, citing biblical, historical and political ties to the West Bank, as well as security interests.

Since the 1967 war, it has established 132 settlements on land Palestinians see as the core of a future state, according to watchdog group Peace Now

In addition to the authorized settlements, groups of settlers have set up numerous outposts without government approval. Some were leveled by the police, others were subsequently approved. The nine approvals given on Sunday are the first for this Netanyahu government.

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the joint statement but added: “We demand that words be followed by deeds.”

With tensions already high in the West Bank, the move has alarmed world powers, who fear an even greater escalation in violence. Israeli forces have been conducting near-daily raids in the West Bank, continuing a crackdown that began last year after a spate of deadly Palestinian attacks.

More than 40 Palestinians, including both militants and civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces this year. At the same time, 10 people were killed in two attacks by Palestinians in Israel.

Reporting by Dan Williams, Madeline Chambers in Berlin, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Kanishka Singh in Washington; writing by James Mackenzie and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Christina Fincher and Howard Goller

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