US criticism of settlement construction: Blinken sends clear warning to Netanyahu

US criticism of settlement construction
Blinken sends clear warning to Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu is only a little away from becoming Prime Minister of Israel again. US Secretary of State Blinken sends him a message without calling his name: he announces opposition to actions that undermine a two-state solution.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticized the settlement policy in the occupied West Bank in clear terms and thus also indirectly issued a warning to Israel’s designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will continue to oppose unequivocally any action that undermines the prospects for a two-state solution,” he said at an event organized by the liberal Jewish organization J Street in Washington.

These included “expansion of settlements, efforts to annex the West Bank, disruption of the historical status quo of the holy sites, demolitions (of houses) and forced evictions, as well as incitement to violence,” Blinken continued, without naming Netanyahu directly in this context.

Israel has occupied the Palestinian West Bank since 1967. Around 475,000 Israelis live in the area in settlements whose construction, according to large parts of the international community, is contrary to international law.

Netanyahu just before the majority

Ex-Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently working on forming a right-wing religious coalition following the recent parliamentary elections. The future government under Netanyahu, who was prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021, is likely to be more right-wing than ever before in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu recently concluded a coalition agreement with, among others, the far-right Religious Zionism party. This will receive a post in the Ministry of Defense, which will be responsible for the Jewish settlements. The only thing missing for the head of the Likud party is the support of two ultra-Orthodox parties for a governing majority.

US President Joe Biden is known as a critic of the Israeli settlement policy, which supported the government of his predecessor Donald Trump. At the same time, Blinken emphasized that the US government’s support for Israel’s security was “untouchable”. The US respected the “democratic decision of the Israeli people,” he said, referring to the parliamentary elections. The new Israeli government will be judged by the policies it pursues and not by individuals. He added: “Anything that takes us away from the two-state solution harms Israel’s long-term security and long-term identity.”

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