UN blasts Israeli expansion of ‘illegal settlements,’ US ‘deeply troubled’

A Biden administration official said that the U.S. is “deeply troubled” by the prospect of expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The United Nations released a blistering statement on Monday accusing Israel of violating international law after the Israeli government announced changes that may ease construction and expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply troubled” by news that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had been granted the authority to approve building in Judea and Samaria.

The lawmaker announced that plans for the construction of 4,000 new homes in the area would be presented to a committee for approval next week.

Referring to settlements as a “flagrant violation of international law,” Guterres said that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are “a significant driver of tensions and violence” in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Jewish building in the area “further entrenches Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, encroaches on Palestinian land and natural resources, hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population and undermines the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and sovereignty,” he added.

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Notably, Guterres’ statement criticized plans for Israeli building in the “occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” He appeared to be referring to potential expansions to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, which is the capital of Israel.

Guterres’ phrasing suggests that he does not recognize the entirety of the city of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of the State of Israel.

A press release from the U.S. State Department also published on Monday used phrasing similar to the UN remarks. A Biden administration official said that they were “deeply troubled” by the prospect of the expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“As has been longstanding policy, the United States opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace,” read the statement.

The State Department added that it urges “Israel to fulfill the commitments it made in Aqaba, Jordan and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and return to dialogue aimed at de-escalation.”