U.S. strongly opposes Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank
"We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution," a State Department spokesperson said. "We also view plans for the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts as unacceptable."
The United States on Tuesday voiced strong opposition to Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, saying such a move damages the prospects for a two-state solution.
"We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government's plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters during a press briefing. "In addition, we are concerned about the publication of tenders on Sunday for 1,300 settlements units in a number of West Bank settlements."
"We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution," he said. "We also view plans for the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts as unacceptable."
Price added that the United States will continue to raise its views on this issue directly with senior Israeli officials in private discussions.
These comments were regarded as a rare and forceful criticism by Washington over the settlement issue.
Israel on Sunday issued tenders for the construction of around 1,355 new housing units in the existing West Bank settlements, alongside which the construction of more than 3,000 settlement homes will be advanced this week in occupied Palestinian territories.
According to Israeli and Palestinian estimates, about 650,000 Israeli settlers live in 164 settlements and 124 outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli settlement is one of the thorniest issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and one of the main reasons hindering the last round of direct peace negotiations between the two sides in 2014.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are claimed by the Palestinians, in the 1967 Middle East war, and has controlled them ever since.