Blinken 'disappointed' by settler plan as Israel looks north, east

Feb 25, 2024

Blinken 'disappointed' by settler plan as Israel looks north, east

Tel Aviv [Israel], February 25: The Gaza War and indirect ceasefire talks rumbled on but it was developments in the West Bank and at the Lebanese border which threatened to further ignite the Middle East power keg on Friday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was unusually frank in his criticism of ally Israel, especially with regards to the Jewish state building settler homes on West Bank land which is almost universally accepted as Palestinian.
"Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgement this only weakens and doesn't strengthen Israel's security," Blinken told reporters in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. Blinken added that he was "disappointed" and made the rare remark from a US diplomat that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are "inconsistent" under international law.
There has also been growing international criticism of Israel for bombarding Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for months, killing almost 30,000 people according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Israel is trying to wipe out Hamas after they and other groups murdered over 1,200 people inside Israel on October 7.
Amid the backdrop of the Gaza conflict, Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wants to press ahead with the construction of more than 3,000 new homes in the occupied West Bank. The Times of Israel newspaper reported on Friday that the committee responsible for authorizing the construction of settler homes will meet shortly to make a decision.
Further troubles brewed in the West Bank, home to the largest Palestinian population of around 3 million, in contrast to the approximately 2 million residents crammed into the now besieged Gaza Strip on the other side of Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had foiled a terrorist attack in the West Bank city of Jenin. The army announced a member of the Islamic Jihad militant organization was eliminated in a drone attack.
The situation in the West Bank has worsened significantly since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel's military has been carrying out regular raids, particularly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, which are administered by the Palestinian Authority and which Israel says are strongholds for terrorist groups.
There has also been a surge in violent attacks by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinian West Bank residents. Further north, near Israel's border with Lebanon, two paramedics and a militant from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement were killed in an Israeli airstrike, Hezbollah said.
Hezbollah said they had sent two drones to attack a target in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel in response.
A new round of indirect negotiations on a ceasefire in the Gaza war did begin in Paris on Friday but details were light.
Source: Qatar Tribune