June 6, 2023

Dubai Week

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US condemns decriminalization of settlement building in West Bank… and comment on “provocative visit” to Al-Aqsa Mosque

ATLANTA, USA (CNN) — The US State Department has criticized an Israeli government order to allow civilians to settle on private Palestinian land, describing new settlements in the West Bank as “an obstacle to achieving a two-state solution.”

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order to allow the permanent presence of the Israeli government in the Homesh settlement in the northern West Bank, which was illegally built on private Palestinian land under Israeli law,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. In a statement on Sunday.

And Miller added, “This contradicts former Prime Minister Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush administration in 2004 and the commitments of the current Israeli government to the Biden administration.”

Israeli governments’ moves to decriminalize Israeli settlements in the West Bank have recently fueled tensions between the two allies.

Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, was summoned to the State Department in March after the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing new settlements in the West Bank.

Miller described Israeli National Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and his statements as “inflammatory”.

The statement did not name Ben Gvir and did not elaborate on the statements he made, but said “this holy site must not be used for political purposes”.

“We are also concerned about today’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and the inflammatory rhetoric that accompanies it,” Miller said. “This holy site should not be used for political purposes and we ask all parties to respect it. The sanctity of the place.”

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A US State Department spokesperson added, “Broadly, we reaffirm the United States’ strong position in support of the historic status of the holy sites in Jerusalem and emphasize Jordan’s special role as the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.”