The US State Department was grilled by reporters on Wednesday for not going beyond condemning and taking proper action against Israel’s illegal settlement activities in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters, “We don’t hesitate to speak to our concerns about Israel’s behavior when we believe it is counter-productive to our goal,” referring to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
He added, “We’re forthright and we’re transparent about our concerns when they arise and certainly, you know, that speaks to ongoing settlement activity.”
— Ben White (@benabyad) August 4, 2016
According to Toner, the US will continue to make those concerns clear to the Israeli authorities, diplomatically and publicly, asking them to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people.
A reporter grilled Toner, saying that the US had a great deal of leverage with Israel which it could use, further claiming that a large amount of the US proposed $40 billion military aid package to Israel would be used for expanding settlements.
Despite more settlements and Gaza war crimes, Israel about to receive the biggest military aid package in US historyhttps://t.co/gRNIvkwcay
— Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) August 4, 2016
Toner stated that diplomatic relations required multiple levels and channels of engagement, which included agreements and disagreements of two countries.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Israeli settlement building on the land to be illegal.