US condemns Israel's decision to advance new settlement plan
Washington, Oct 6 The Us "strongly" condemns the Israeli government's recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank, the State Department said on Wednesday.
"Proceeding with this new settlement, which could include up to 300 units, would further damage the prospects for a two state solution," State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.
The criticism comes after Israel's decision last week to approve a plan for the construction of 98 housing units in the new settlement to be established next to the Shvut Rachel settlement, an Israeli settlement and a city in the West Bank, according to Israeli media reports.
The approval of a new plan "contradicts previous public statements by the Government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements," Toner said.
The new settlement plan also came after the United States and Israel signed last week an unprecedented new military aid deal that will give the Israeli military 38 billion U.S. dollars from fiscal year 2019 to 2028.
Toner said that it is "deeply troubling" that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians in the wake of the new deal on military aid.
The spokesperson also lashed out at Israel for advancing plans that would "seriously undermine" the prospects for the two state solution that former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who died last week at the age of 93, "so passionately" supported.
Peres's body was laid to rest last Friday during a state funeral attended by US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and dignitaries from 80 nations.
In Wednesday's statement, Toner called on Israel to "ultimately decide" between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution.
"Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state," he said.
"Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel's commitment to achieving a negotiated peace," the spokesperson added.