A senior Israeli official says the Biden administration doesn’t actually care about Tel Aviv’s land expropriation policies and settlement expansion activities, and won’t prevent advancement of plans for fresh settlement expansion.
“Contrary to the impression they’re trying to make, the Americans don’t care that much about the ministry of construction and housing’s decision, and they have no problem tolerating it,” Israeli news website Zman Yisrael quoted the unnamed official close to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett as saying on Friday.
“This construction is not part of the conversation we are having with the Americans. We noticed that. The Americans understand the political situation here very well, and they do not want to see us go down over this [issue]. They also know what the alternative is,” the official added.
On Wednesday, an Israeli military committee gave the green light to the construction of 1,800 homes, and the initial approval for another 1,344 units in the West Bank.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday that Washington was concerned about the “plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank.”
“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm.”
Price, however, remained non-committal when asked whether Israel would face any repercussions from Washington over the latest constriction plan.
“Our Israeli partners know where we stand, and we’ll continue to engage with them in our diplomacy on this,” he said.
Since taking office in January, Biden and his top aides have been reluctant to criticize Israel in public. They have only issued general warnings against steps they say harm the ‘two-state solution.’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the international community to take a “decisive stance” on the Israeli decision to build more residences for extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank.
Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement, said the “approval affirms the expansionist behavior of settlements which is inherent in all Zionist administrations.”
“We call on the Palestinian Authority and all international parties to take action and stop Israeli occupation from the illegal settlement expansion in our lands.
Israel occupied East al-Quds during the 1967 war and annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that failed to gain recognition of the international community. Palestinians want the occupied West Bank as part of their future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. All the settlements are illegal under international law. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the settlement activities in several resolutions.