1 of 2 | U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) said they are concerned about the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorizing new Wes Bank settlements over the weekend. File Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The United States is "deeply troubled" by Israel's decision to move forward with recognizing nine settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Biden administration said Monday, as countries lobbed condemnation at the Middle Eastern nation over its controversial decision.
On Sunday, Israel announced the authorization of the nine settlements, some of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said "have existed for decades," and plans to build some 10,000 new settlement homes in existing West Bank communities.
The prime minister's office said the decision by the Security Cabinet was made in response to a series of recent fatal terrorist attacks targeting Jerusalem.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States "strongly opposes" the unilateral decision that will only exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects of a two-state solution.
"As I have previously stated, anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two people is detrimental to Israel's long-term security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state and to our vision of equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike," he said in a statement.
Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territory and the establishment of settlements are widely viewed as illegal under international law, and has attracted the repeated criticism and condemnation of the United Nations.
The announcement was also made by the newly inaugurated far-right coalition government of Netanyahu amid rising tensions between the two sides.
Israel has conducted a number anti-terrorism activities, including demolishing homes of suspected terrorists and conducting raids in the West Bank, that Palestinian officials state have killed nearly 50 people so far this year.
During that same time frame, Israelis have been victimized by several high-profile terrorist attacks that have killed several people.
After the settlement announcement was made by Israel on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority warned it was a dangerous escalation toward open war.
On Monday, the Palestine Authority's ministry of foreign affairs said it "rejects, in the strongest terms, Israel's ongoing war crimes and acquisition of territory by force, including its criminal decision to expand its colonial settlement enterprise."
"Land theft is an Israeli national project, undertaken by every branch of the Israeli government," it said in a statement. "It is a state-sanctioned crime."
The Palestinian Authority has also called on the United Nations to intervene. In an early Tuesday statement, its mission to the intergovernmental body said the Security Council was duty-bound to act and "must speak with one voice to send a clear and firm message to Israel, the occupying power, that its grave violations will not be tolerated, that it must cease all illegal policies and measures forthwith and that it will face accountability."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "deeply concerned" over Israel's provocative move, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, told reporters Monday.
"All settlements are illegal under international aw and a substantial obstacle to peace," Guterres said, according to Dujarric.
Representatives from a slew of other countries mirrored this sentiment, expressing concern that Israel's decision will only further deepen the ongoing conflict.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, the minister of foreign affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said in a press conference that it will only enflame tension and complicate the situation."
Egypt also condemned Israel's decision and warned that it will "widen the scope and pace of violence."
"This will have dire repercussions on the security and stability of the entire region," its foreign ministry said in a statement, while calling for an immediate cessation to the unilateral plans and its house demolitions, arrests and raids on Palestinian people.
Turkey also condemned the plans and called on Israel "to end its actions, which may trigger a new spiral of violence in the region and contravene international law and the established U.N. parameter."