Israel will keep promoting settlements despite US concern, minister says – Middle East Monitor

A top Israeli minister has defied US concern over the illegal expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank saying the government would continue building and would not accept “preaching” from other countries, Reuters reported.

“This is our country, all of it,” said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has recently been given the ability to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Does anyone think that Israel will be managed like another U.S. state? I will not accept moral preaching from anybody,” Kan reported him saying.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government said it planned to approve 4,560 new housing units in various areas of the West Bank. The US State Department said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision.

“As has been longstanding policy, the United States opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace,” the statement said.

A UN official said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Israel to stop and reverse its “disturbing decisions regarding settlement activity” in the occupied West Bank.

“The Secretary-General reiterates that the settlements are a flagrant violation of international law, and a major obstacle to achieving a viable two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” said Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.

“The expansion of these illegal settlements is a major driver of tension and violence, and greatly increases humanitarian needs,” he added.

READ: Israel settlements illegal under international law

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