The United States has dismissed as ‘illegitimate’ a decision by Israel to construct hundreds more illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Washington was deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions with respect to settlements in the West Bank," the State Department announced in a Sunday statement, the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, reported.
The condemnation came after Tel Aviv on Sunday unveiled a plan “to build several hundred units at Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kyriat Sefer.”
Calling Israeli settlement activity ‘illegitimate,’ the US said that the decision to build 500 new settlements in the occupied West Bank counters the installed talks between Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials.
"Continued Israeli settlements are illegitimate and run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations," the statement said.
“The lack of a resolution to this conflict harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms the interests of the United States and the international community."
"We will continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues in the context of a peace agreement," the statement added.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) also condemned Israel’s approval of the construction of the new settlements.
"It strongly condemns the settler attacks against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and we ask the Quartet to urgently intervene to stop the actions of the settlers," Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.
The move would further complicate the stalled talks between Israeli and PA officials.
Early this month, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said that the illegal settlement construction in the occupied West bank has climbed sharply in the past five months.
The data, released by the bureau on March 5, indicates that the Israeli regime started over 114 settlement units during the 10-month construction freeze Tel Aviv announced in November 2009.
Israel’s insistence to resume its West Bank settlement construction projects — deemed by the international community as illegal — prompted PA negotiators to walk out on a new round of US-sponsored direct talks.
Palestinians have repeatedly voiced concern over efforts by the Israeli regime to wipe out the Islamic and Palestinian identity of the occupied territories, East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in particular, to effectively render the establishment of a future Palestinian state unfeasible.