Former US Ambassador to Israel calls on Biden to rein in illegal Israeli settlements
Former US ambassador to the nation Daniel Kurtzer said on Thursday that the Joe Biden administration should warn Israel that its continuous colonization of the West Bank breaches a commitment it made with Washington in 2004.
Nine colonies in the occupied West Bank received retroactive approval from the Israeli prime minister earlier this month. Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, later announced that 10,000 dwellings for Jewish settlers would be constructed in these areas. The US apparently interfered to derail a Palestinian plan to release a legally binding resolution in place of the action, even though the UN Security Council condemned the action in a statement.
Kurtzer stated at a Jewish Democratic Council of America meeting on Thursday that retroactively approving these unlawfully constructed outposts is “a substantial breach of a pledge that the Israeli government made in writing to the American government back in 2004.”
In 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to destroy any unlicensed Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Sharon destroyed 21 colonies in Gaza and four in the West Bank the year after. Nevertheless, under Netanyahu, outposts started to rise once more, and as of today, 132 are recognized by the Israeli government, according to information from Israeli activists.
Not only are these illegal outposts not being destroyed, but Kurtzer said that they are actually being attempted to be legalized ex post facto. “And many have been constructed since then, making the total rather considerable,” the author continued.
The Biden administration should remind Israel that we both have written records of this agreement, he continued.
On Thursday, Netanyahu gave the hardline Zionist minister Smotrich responsibility over civil matters in the West Bank, including planning, building, and land distribution. Smotrich’s first action was to approve the construction of more than 7,000 additional residences, some of which would be found in unofficially recognized outposts.
A two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is said to be less likely as a result of the government’s settlement strategy, according to critics.
The West Bank is being “creepingly annexed” by the settlement process, according to Kurtzer, who also stated that “if Israel is still interested in a peace process, it will have to cease a lot of the activities that it is pursuing and the US will need to show its commitment to helping Israel go in that path.