Blinken says 'deeply troubled' by Israel settlement moves

AFP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 14 Feb 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday criticized Israel's moves to advance settlements, warning that the US ally was aggravating tensions with the Palestinians following recent violence.

Antony Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaks during a news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at the State Department in Washington. AP


"We are deeply troubled by Israel's decision" on Sunday to legalize nine West Bank outposts and reported plans to move ahead with the construction of 10,000 settlement units, Blinken said in a statement.

"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."

The criticism, while still in diplomatic language, was unusual as it was issued as a statement in Blinken's name, not a comment from the spokesperson.

The Israeli moves come on the heels of a visit by Blinken to the region in which he explicitly warned against settlement activity as he sought to ease tensions following violence.

"Anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two peoples is detrimental to Israel's long-term security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, and to our vision of equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike," Blinken said in Monday's statement.

Blinken has previously said that President Joe Biden's administration would judge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right government by its actions, not by personalities inside of it.

Egypt condemned on Monday the Israeli government’s most recent decision to "legitimise" more pockets of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as the building of new settlement units.

The foreign ministry described the decision as "an unacceptable provocative act coinciding with the holding of Jerusalem Support Conference," which took place in Cairo on Sunday.

The Jerusalem Support conference, which was hosted by the Arab League, was attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II along with high-level representation from Arab, regional and international bodies.

During the conference, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reiterated his country's rejection and condemnation of any Israeli measures to change the historical and legal status quo of the city of Jerusalem (known in Arabic as 'Al-Quds') and its sanctities.

He also called "on the international community and peace partners not to give in to the current political stalemate and work together to implement the two-state solution and provide appropriate conditions for resuming the peace process between Palestine and Israel.”

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