The Israeli government has been announcing major settlement expansions apace throughout the peace talks with the Palestinians, each time gambling that the Palestinians would complain but ultimately look the other way to keep the process going. Today, it looks like they went too far.
After getting away with several expansions of a few thousand settlement units, Israel was confirmed today to be making plans for an expansion of nearly 24,000 additional units across the occupied West Bank, with about 4,000 of those in East Jerusalem.
Within hours, the US State Department issued a warning of “deep concern” about the plan, and Palestinian officials walked out of the peace talks, suggesting their involvement may have come to an end.
Apparently recognizing they’d crossed the line, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced shortly thereafter that they were backing off the plans, saying they were causing “unnecessary conflict” at a time when Israel is intensely lobbying the international community to avoid diplomacy with Iran.