A State Department official condemned Israel on Friday in response to a Tel Aviv plan to add 4,000 new settlement homes. Palestinian groups responded favorably to the statement but expressed that mere words are insufficient.
Deputy State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters that the continued settlement expansion would damage the chance of a two-state solution on Friday. “Israel’s program of expanding settlements deeply damages the prospect for a two-state solution.” She added, “strongly opposes the expansion of settlements, which exacerbates tensions and undermines trust between the parties.”
Porter’s statement comes amid heightened tensions in Israel and the occupied territories. The Associated Press reports that 18 Israelis and 30 Palestinians have been killed. On Sunday, two Palestinians were shot and killed. A 17-year-old was killed by an Israeli citizen claiming the teen carried a knife onto a settlement. Israeli forces killed a second man for attempting to bypass a checkpoint in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian Authority (PA) praised the Biden administration’s condemnation. However, both groups said the simple statement was not enough. The PA foreign minister said that words are “insufficient” and do not “rise to the level of the crimes of settlement construction.”
The US has frequently condemned Israeli settlement expansion but does not attempt to leverage the support it gives to Tel Aviv to demand better treatment of the Palestinians. Porter indicated this would again be the case with Joe Biden, saying the president’s upcoming visit was unimpacted by Israel’s latest land grab. “I have nothing to comment about the president’s upcoming trip,” she said.