By Josh Plank, World Israel News
The United States is “deeply concerned” over a proposed Israeli bill aimed at legalizing 70 outposts in Judea and Samaria, a State Department spokesperson told Times of Israel on Wednesday.
The Knesset’s Arrangements Committee voted to fast-track the bill Tuesday evening, waiving the requirement that 45 days must pass before it can be voted on.
“We are deeply concerned about the potential ‘legalization’ of outposts that have long been deemed illegal under Israeli law,” said the State Department spokesperson.
“As we have long said, it is critical that Israel refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace. This includes evictions, settlement activity and home demolitions, and certainly includes the legalization of Israeli outposts in the West Bank that have long been illegal even under Israeli law,” said the spokesperson.
At a State Department briefing Wednesday, Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter told Al Jazeera‘s Rosiland Jordan, “We’ll continue to underscore that it’s critical for Israel to refrain from any unilateral steps that certainly would exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace.”
Matt Lee of The Associated Press asked, “I just wanted to make sure when you say, ‘It’s critical for Israel to refrain from any unilateral steps,’ you also mean that it’s critical for the Palestinians to refrain from any unilateral steps that would take us away from peace. I just want to make sure that’s the case.”
Porter responded simply, “As it stands, my response to Rosiland is correct as it stands.”
Also on Wednesday, the European Union condemned the planned construction of 540 new housing units in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem.
EU spokesperson Peter Stano said the plan would “severely undermine future negotiations towards a two-state solution in line with the internationally agreed parameters.”
“The EU renews its call on the Israeli government to halt settlement construction and to reverse these latest decisions as a matter of urgency,” he said.