The United States is “extremely troubled” by the Israeli Knesset’s legislation rescinding important parts of the 2005 “disengagement law,” which paves the way for Jewish settlers to four West Bank settlements, said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel during a press briefing. A general view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat, on Jan. 30, 2023. Israel s parliament on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, annulled its 2005 withdrawal from four Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, clearing the way for the possibility of an official return to the abandoned areas. “The US strongly urges Israel to refrain from allowing the return of settlers to the area covered by the legislation, consistent with both former Prime Minister Sharon and the current Israeli Government’s commitment to the United States,” Patel told reporters.
“We have been clear that advancing settlements is an obstacle to peace and the achievement of a two-state solution. This certainly includes creating new settlements, building or legalizing outposts, or allowing building of any kind on private Palestinian land or deep in the West Bank adjacent to Palestinian communities, all of which would be facilitated by this legal change,” he added. He also pointed out that “the action represents a clear contradiction of undertakings the Israeli Government made to the United States. Nearly 20 years ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on behalf of Israel affirmed in writing to George W. Bush that it committed to evacuate these settlements and outposts in the northern West Bank, in order to stabilize the situation and reduce frictions.” The deputy spokesperson asserted that the legislative changes announced are particularly “provocative and counterproductive” to efforts to restore some measures of calm as we head into the Ramadan, Passover, and Easter holidays.
The amendments to the disengagement law are also inconsistent with Israel’s recent commitments to de-escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Just two days ago, Israel reaffirmed its “commitment to stop discussion of any new settlements for four months and to stop authorization of any outposts for six months.” Meanwhile, the US State Department has summoned Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog to Washington over the recently amended law on legitimizing settlements in the northern West Bank.
“Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog today in Washington,” according to a US State Department statement. “The Deputy Secretary conveyed US concern regarding legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset rescinding important aspects of the 2005 Disengagement Law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank,” it said. The statement added that they also discussed the importance of all parties refraining from actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions leading into the Ramadan, Passover, and Easter holidays.