WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Biden administration joined with five European countries to express its “deep concern” about Israel’s decision on Sunday to recognize nine West Bank settlement outposts.
Israel’s cabinet legalized the outposts, which were previously considered illegal under Israeli law, in response to a series of terrorist attacks that killed 10 civilians.
Tuesday’s statement represents the Biden administration’s sharpest criticism yet of Israel’s new right-wing government. It is in line with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s pledge not to judge Israel’s government by the past statements and actions of its cabinet ministers, but by its current actions. It comes days after Biden criticized the Israeli government’s plan to constrain the power of the judiciary, saying that independent courts are part of “the genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy.”
All of the statement’s signatories are known for their good relationships with Israel.
“We – the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and the Secretary of State of the United States – are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units and intends to begin a process to normalize nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law,” the statement said. “We strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution.”
The statement went on to support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a path to peace Netanyahu has dismissed.