OAN’s Roy Francis
12:44 PM – Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Israel’s government approved plans to build over 5,000 homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank on Monday.
The move by Israel has threatened to worsen the already strained relations that the country has with the United States due to the Biden administration’s criticism of Israel’s settlement policy.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the settlements “an obstacle to the horizon of hope we see” in a speech early in June. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also said that the U.S. was “deeply troubled” by the new decision to build more homes.
The White House has not made any public action towards Israel, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to be invited to the White House as is customary after an Israeli election.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Issac Wasserlauf downplayed the disagreements with the U.S. on Monday.
“I think the alliance with the U.S. will remain,” he said. “There are disagreements, we knew how to deal with them in the past.”
The move also raised tensions with Palestinians in the area at a time of rising violence in the area. Peace Now, an anti-settlement watchdog group said that Israel has now approved over 13,000 new settlements in 2023, which is nearly three times the number of houses approved in 2022.
The Israel’s Defense Ministry planning committee, which oversees settlement constructions, has approved the new expansion of around 5,700 settlement homes, although it was not made clear when construction on the new homes would begin.
Senior Israeli officials have been pushing for more housing settlement and expansion of Israeli policing in the area in recent weeks due to the increase in violence.
Last week, four Israelis were shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen who had opened fire near a Jewish settlement. The same settlement, Eli, will now gain 1,000 more homes as part of the newly approved plans.
The new Israeli government, which took office in December, has made settlement expansion one of its top priorities.
The West Bank and east Jerusalem now house over 700,000 Israelis.
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