The United States issued a scathing condemnation of an Israeli plan to build new housing in the Shomron on Wednesday, saying that such a decision was “deeply troubling,” coming so soon after the signing of the 10-year military aid agreement.
At issue was the plan for a new neighborhood in the community of Shiloh as a possible site for the relocation of 40 families who face a court-ordered evacuation from the Amona outpost. The search for a solution to the problem which will satisfy the High Court, the families and the right wing has strained the government coalition over the past few weeks.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the move, which would create “a significant new settlement deep in” the Shomron of up to 300 housing units, would “further damage prospects for a two-state solution.”
Such a project, he said, “would link a string of other Jewish outposts that would divide the Palestinian region and make the possibility of a Palestinian state even more remote.”
He noted the “disheartening” timing, shortly after the funeral of former President Shimon Peres, who championed a peaceful settlement to the Palestinian conflict, of a decision that undermines that aim.
“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution,” Toner said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry disputed Toner’s characterization of the project: “The 98 housing units approved in Shiloh do not constitute a ‘new settlement,’ ” it said in a statement. “This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shiloh and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint. The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona.
“Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. The real obstacle to peace is not the settlements – a final status issue that can and must be resolved in negotiations between the parties – but the persistent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries.”
The Prime Minister’s Office had no immediate reaction to the harsh condemnation.
The High Court ordered that the Amona outpost be removed by December 25th after determining that the houses there were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
The families there have so far refused relocation inside Shiloh, insisting on their right to continue living where they are.
Updated Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 5:01 pm