Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Israel’s latest round of settlement expansions today, saying that it was the position of the US government that “all of the settlements are illegitimate.”
At the same time, Kerry sought to downplay the significance of the announcements, saying they “were to some degree expected” and warning the Palestinians not to allow the announcements to get in the way of the peace talks.
The Palestinian Authority is reportedly split on the idea of continuing the talks this week after the expansions, with officials saying the final decision will likely depend on Israel making good on pledged prisoner releases.
Kerry may be correct that the announcements were no real surprise, as Israeli media was reporting weeks ago that a secret deal had been made between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Home to allow huge expansions.
At the same time, Israel came to the table with an “unofficial” promise to enforce a limited settlement expansion freeze, and with only a single preliminary meeting held yet they have already shot well beyond that claim.