Susan Rice: US against Israel’s expansion of settlements

Susan Rice

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama’s top aide on Thursday blamed Israeli settlement expansion announcements for some of the latest tensions between Israel and the Palestinians as U.S.-brokered peace talks between the two sides have faltered.

According to Al-Alam, Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, told a Washington think tank on Thursday, “We have seen increased tensions on the ground. Some of this is a result of recent settlement announcements.”

“So let me reiterate: The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” Rice stated.

Her remarks to a conference of the Middle East Institute drew applause from an audience that included former and current U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, some from Arab countries, and regional experts.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, an area controlled by Hamas Islamists opposed to Abbas’ peace moves, with East Jerusalem as the capital. They argue that Israeli settlements deny them a viable country. Since the talks resumed after a three-year break, Israel has announced plans for several thousand new Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The disclosure on Tuesday that Israel’s Housing Ministry had commissioned separate plans for nearly 24,000 more homes for Israelis in the two areas raised U.S. concern and drew Palestinian condemnation.

The Obama aide also stated that Washington’s opposition to the illegal Israeli settlement expansion is “not new” and had been the US policy for decades.

In similar remarks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has described Israeli settlements constructed on the occupied Palestinian land as “illegitimate.”

The Palestinian Authority and Israelis resumed their U.S.-backed negotiations in late July, but the talks broke down in early November, amid a dispute over Israel’s decision to push ahead with the construction of thousands of new illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian territories.

On November 13, acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas said his negotiation team had resigned over the lack of progress in the negotiations with Tel Aviv.

Abbas made the announcement a day after Tel Aviv issued tenders for the construction of nearly 24,000 new settler units in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli regime has been under fire from the international community, including its own allies, over its expansionist policies.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

Source: Tehran Times

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