Advertisement

U.S. chastises Israel over illegal outpost order

The United States on Sunday rebuked Israel over its recent decision to allow Israelis back into West Bank's Homesh settlement, which was evacuated in 2005. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
The United States on Sunday rebuked Israel over its recent decision to allow Israelis back into West Bank's Homesh settlement, which was evacuated in 2005. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- The United States on Sunday criticized Israel over its decision to allow Israelis back into an illegal outpost built on private Palestinian land in the northern West Bank.

The order, which creates the conditions for Israel to establish a permanent presence in Homesh, was made Thursday by Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, chief of the Israeli Defense Forces' Central Command, and was shared online by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Advertisement

Homesh is one of four settlements that Israel ordered the evacuation of in 2005 when they withdrew from the Gaza Strip. In March, Knesset lawmakers voted 31-18 to repeal the law amid efforts to re-establish Homesh where a new Jewish school was recently built. The motion voted on was put forth by the far-right coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The United States -- which has repeatedly called on Israel to refrain from taking unilateral actions that undermine the possibility of establishing a two-state solution -- issued a statement Sunday, saying the Biden administration is "deeply troubled" by the Thursday order to allow citizens to establish a permanent presence in Homesh.

Advertisement

The statement, issued by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, highlights that the outpost, according to Israeli law, "was illegally built on private Palestinian land."

"This order is inconsistent with both former Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon's written commitment to the Bush administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government's commitment to the Biden administration," he said. "Advancing Israeli settlements in the West bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution."

The order was issued last week amid escalating violence with Palestinians.

On Sunday, Israel's security minister Itamar Ben Gvir made a controversial visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which also drew the criticism of the Biden administration.

"This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parities to respect its sanctity," he said.

Known as the Temple Mount in Judaism and Christianity, the holy site is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque -- one of Islam's holiest mosques believed to be where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been under the administration of the Kingdom of Jordan and has been the site of recent clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli forces.

Latest Headlines