A former US ambassador, Daniel Kurtzer, who served in Tel Aviv during the George W Bush administration, accused Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government of breaking a written agreement with Washington by legalising a group of hardline nationalist and religious settlements in the West Bank.
He warned that some ministers in Netanyahu’s new coalition are not interested in a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
He called on the Biden administration to be more proactive in stopping Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the West Bank.
Kurtzer said he is also concerned about Israel’s plans to press ahead with building settlements in an area just outside Jerusalem known as E1.
“If Israel builds there as they want to build, it would effectively cut the West Bank in two,” he said.
The retroactive authorisation of the nine so-called outposts earlier this month, alongside plans to build thousands of new homes in larger West Bank settlements, is a further blow to a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“It’s also a significant violation of a commitment that the Israeli government made in writing to the American government back in 2004 when, in a letter to the then Bush administration, Israel undertook to dismantle illegal outposts, illegal settlements,” he said. “Now you’ve come full circle. Not only are they not dismantling these illegal outposts, but they’re trying to legalise them ex post facto. And there have been many that have been built since that time so that the number is really quite significant.”
“If Israel is still interested in a peace process, it’s going to have to stop a number of the actions that it’s it’s taking. It’s going to have to start doing some things that it’s not doing,” he said.