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Israel to build 5,700 Judea and Samaria homes; US ‘deeply troubled’

Washington is not returning to a policy of considering Israeli settlements illegal, says State Dept. spokesperson.

Construction work in the Dagan neighborhood of Efrat in Judea and Samaria on July 22, 2019. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.
Construction work in the Dagan neighborhood of Efrat in Judea and Samaria on July 22, 2019. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.

The United States on Monday criticized Israel’s approval earlier in the day of nearly 6,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria,

“Settlements are an impediment to a negotiated two-state solution,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, adding that the United States was “deeply troubled” by the Israeli move.

The Higher Planning Council of Israel’s Civil Administration on Monday approved the building of 5,700 homes in Judea and Samaria. The announcement was cheered by the Yesha Council, an organized body representing municipal councils in Judea and Samaria.

“On behalf of all of the residents of Judea and Samaria, I thank the Israeli government for continuing the development of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Especially during these difficult days, this is the most appropriate Zionist answer to all those who seek to destroy us,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor and Yesha Council Spokesman Shlomo Ne’eman.

“The Yesha Council will continue to work with the ministers and the planning authorities in order to continue construction in Judea and Samaria,” he added.

The U.S. condemnation of the housing approval comes days after an announcement by the Biden administration that it will cut scientific and technological cooperation with Israeli institutions in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

However, Miller clarified on Monday that the Biden administration was not returning to a policy of considering Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria illegal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in January 2020 that the United States was “disavowing” the 1978 Hansell Memorandum, a State Department memo that claimed Israeli settlements violate international law.

According to Miller, “We are reverting to U.S. policy to longstanding pre-2020 geographic limitations on U.S. support for activities in those areas, a policy that goes back decades.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed the White House move, saying that the Biden administration was “pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel” and pledging to work to reverse the decision.

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