The US State Department released a statement on Wednesday slamming Israel’s continued settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, while expressing concern over the recent increase of demolitions on Palestinian homes that have left dozens of Palestinians homeless in the past week.
John Kirby, State Department Spokesman, said that the United States was “deeply concerned” by reports of the Israeli government opening tenders for 323 additional units in several Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Kirby added that Israel’s fast-tracking of the resettlement of Israeli citizens into Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory appeared to represent a “steady acceleration of settlement activity that is systematically undermining the prospects for a two- state solution.”
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) July 28, 2016
Israel plans to legalize an Israeli settler outpost near Ramallah while issuing tenders for 42 additional units in Kiryat Arba, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank district of Hebron infamous for its extremist residents.
Kirby expressed the government’s concern over dozens of Palestinians, including children, being made homeless due to Israeli home demolitions which were carried out on an unprecedented scale this week in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and Ras al-Amoud, and in the village of Qalandiya in the West Bank district of Jerusalem.
Kirby’s statement continued: “We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
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While the Israeli government does not make Israeli settler population statistics public, most rights groups estimate that approximately 500,000 to 600,000 settlers reside in Israeli settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem – an act which is considered illegal under international law.
Kirby’s statement has joined a long line of other nations, international organizations, and rights groups, including the European Union and United Nations, that have condemned Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, which have escalated to a concerning degree over the past several months.