Former US ambassador Daniel Kurtzer accused Israel of violating its commitments to US by legalizing settlements in the West Bank.
Amid the rise of the expansionist policies taken by the new extremist government in Israel and the efforts to legalize them, Daniel Kurtzer, US former ambassador in Israel accused the Netanyahu government of ‘significant violation of commitments”.
Referring to the recent move by the Israeli government in authorizing of the nine so-called outposts earlier this month, Kurtzer accused Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government of breaking a written agreement with Washington by legalizing a group of hardline nationalist and religious settlements in the West Bank.
It was in mid-February that Israel announced the legalization of nine unauthorized outposts and approved the planning and construction of nearly 10,000 new housing units in existing settlements in the coming months. Shortly before Kurtzer spoke, Netanyahu also gave sweeping authority to his finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, over governance of the West Bank.
The West lases out at Israel’s expansionism
Upon announcing the news, the US joined European governments – France, Germany, Italy and the UK – in saying it was “deeply troubled”.
In addition, the UN Security Council issued a formal statement on this past Monday condemning Israel’s plan to expand settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the United States making a rare decision to support the statement and vote in favor of it.
The UN Security Council also expressed its “dismay” at plans by Israel’s hard-right government to retroactively legalize settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, warning in a statement Monday that such measures “impede peace”.
Good to mention that the statement marked the first time the United States has allowed the security council to issue against Israel in six years.
Speaking to the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Kurtzer said the approval of the nine outposts “has ramifications that go far beyond the immediacy of it” because the legalization adds to the spread of settlements encroaching on a potential Palestinian state.
“It’s also a significant violation of a commitment that the Israeli government made in writing to the American government back in 2004 when, in a letter to the then Bush administration, Israel undertook to dismantle illegal outposts, illegal settlements,” Kurtzer further noted.
Time for the Biden administration to do something
The US ambassador to Tel Aviv during the George W Bush administration also warned that some ministers in Netanyahu’s new coalition are not interested in a peace agreement with the Palestinians, calling on the Biden administration to be more proactive in stopping Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the West Bank.
Nearly 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. This is while according to international law, including the resolutions issued by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, all the settlements of Israel in Palestine are considered illegal but Israel distinguishes between permitted construction and unauthorized outposts that are often nonetheless established with official complicity.
Referring to the written agreement between US and Israel back in 2004, Kurtzer concluded his remarks by saying that “I hope the Biden administration reminds Israel that this is a commitment in writing that the both of us have in our files.”