Despite violent protests among settlers and a lot of hand-wringing, the Israeli military today finally complied with a court order to remove two settler buildings illegally built on privately-owned Palestinian land near the settlement of Beit El, near Ramallah.
Desperate to placate the far-right, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed this up by announcing he is approving 300 new settlement units in the same area, and over 500 others elsewhere across the occupied West Bank.
The State Department issued a statement saying they were “deeply concerned” about the settlement expansion, saying they believe the new construction threatens the peace process and “calls into question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated resolution to the conflict.
Netanyahu’s far-right coalition is the narrowest majority possible, 61 in a 120-seat parliament, and he needs to keep every one of them to try to pass any legislation. He was facing threats from some of the more pro-settler members to vote against him on everything if he went through on the demolitions the court demanded, and seems to be trying to split the difference with the new construction announcements.