US criticizes Israel order on West Bank settler outpost

Ahram Online , AFP , Monday 22 May 2023

The US State Department criticized Sunday an Israeli order that allows Jewish settlers to establish a permanent presence in an occupied West Bank outpost.

Israeli settlers are seen at the outpost of Eviatar near the northern West Bank town of Nablus, Monday, June 21, 2021. AP


“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which, according to Israeli law, was illegally built on private Palestinian land,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

The order is inconsistent with Israeli government commitments made in 2004, and more recently to officials in President Biden's administration, Miller said.

The Israeli military’s Central Command has signed off on an order allowing Israelis to enter the outpost of Homesh near Nablus, paving the way for a formal settlement to be built there.

The US State Department urged Israel to avoid actions, including formalizing settler outposts, that could escalate tensions with Palestinians. Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal by the international community and the UN.

In March, Israeli lawmakers approved a rollback of legislation, which ordered the evacuation of four northern West Bank settlements concurrent with Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

The law repealed clauses of the 2005 Disengagement Law that banned Israelis from the area where the settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim, and Sa-Nur once stood.

Earlier on Sunday, the US expressed its concern over the provocative visit by Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

"This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity," the US State Department spokesman stated.

Ben-Gvir's visit came three days after he and tens of thousands of Jewish nationalists marched through the Old City and just over a week into a fragile Gaza ceasefire.

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