US commands Israel: Thou shalt not build settlements

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also insisted U.S. will reopen controversial Jerusalem consulate.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The US reiterated its opposition to Israel building settlements in Judea and Samaria during talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Reuters reported.

When asked if the US had raised settlements during their talks in Washington on Thursday, an Israeli official told reporters, “Yes.”

According to Reuters, the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “They raised it, and not in a ‘Great job, guys, go ahead’” way.

While President Joe Biden’s administration opposes settlement growth, it has not publicly challenged Israel on the issue. Numerous reports have indicated that the White House does not want to press Israel on contentious issues that could undermine Israel’s governing coalition until after the Knesset passes the state budget. A new budget must be approved by November 4, or the Knesset will be automatically dissolved and Israel will head to new elections.

Separately, at a joint press conference with Lapid and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Blinken insisted that the U.S. still intends to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem to serve Palestinians.

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“We’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of the deepening those ties with the Palestinians,” Blinken said.

The Secretary of State did not indicate a time frame for when the administration hopes to reopen the consulate.

Israel opposes the Biden administration’s desire to reopen the consulate. In 2018, President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to western Jerusalem. American consular services for Palestinians are now provided at the embassy.

Israeli officials argue that reopening the consulate undermines Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Blinken also told Lapid that “other options” are on the table if Iran doesn’t agree to curb its nuclear program in the near future.