US President Barack Obama arrives with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) in Washington September 1, 2010.
The United States harshly condemned Israeli legislative attempts to authorize some 2,000 illegal settler homes on private Palestinian property on Monday.
“We’re deeply concerned,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, the US State Department’s Director for Press Operations.
The legislation, she said, “could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank.” It “would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that is inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and breaks non-standing Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington.
“Our policy on settlements is clear, we believe they are corrosive to the cause of peace. This legislation would be a dramatic advancement of the settlement enterprise, which is already gravely endangering the prospects for a two-state solution.
“This only makes clearer the choice Israel faces between building more settlements and preserving the possibility of peace,” Trudeau said.
Israel’s attorney-general has “expressed serious doubts about the constitutionality” of the proposed legislation, she said adding that the US hoped it did not become law.
Her statement follows a number of unusually harsh words the US has said about Israeli settlement activity over the last months.
Trudeau did not comment on what action if any the US might take on the settlement issue in US President Barack Obama’s last two months in office.
Israel is fearful that during that time he may turn to the UN Security Council on settlements or with a proposal with respect to the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.
Last week US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “I can’t rule out that there may be a new initiative before the end of this administration.”
On Monday the Palestinians announced that in light of the legislation they were determined to bring the issue of settlements to the UN Security Council, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Such legislation “is going to bring disasters to the region,” Abu Rudeineh said. He added that the Palestinians would turn to other international institutions as well, “to stop this Israeli escalation.”
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