US State Department officials issued a statement of rebuke to Israel’s newly minted government today, criticizing their planned expansion of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
“This is a disappointing development,” noted spokesman Jeff Rathke, saying the US wants to “see a commitment for the two-state solution,” and that the latest construction plans are incompatible with that.
The Ramat Shlomo plan dates back to 2010, when Israel unveiled it during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. This caused a serious diplomatic row at the time, and the plan is now receiving final approval.
The timing is controversial this time because Prime Minister Netanyahu capped off this year’s reelection campaign by promising massive expansions of settlements in East Jerusalem explicitly to make a two-state solution impossible to reach in the future. Though he has since tried to reassure the US that he didn’t mean it, the policies underpinning this stance are moving forward.