A former US ambassador to Israel on Friday sharply criticized the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for seeking to annex Palestinian land in the illegally occupied West Bank.
The Guardian reports Daniel Kurtzer, who served as US ambassador in Tel Aviv during the administration of former President George W. Bush, told members of the Jewish Democratic Council of America that the Biden administration should do more to try to prevent the Israeli government‘s “creeping annexation” of the West Bank.
Kurtzer specifically mentioned Israel’s recent “legalization” of nine Jewish-only settler outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that are illegal even under Israeli law, an act he said dealt a major blow to peace. Israel has steadily usurped more and more of the West Bank over the decades, using a combination of courts, troops, and apartheid settlers to seize and hold more land on which illegal colonies are built and expanded.
According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, more than 620,000 Israelis currently live in about 140 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While Israel offers every Jew in the world the right to settle in Israel, it has—against U.N. resolutions and international law—refused to allow the approximately five million Palestinian refugees alive today to return to their homeland.
While successive American administrations have proclaimed their opposition to Israel’s construction and expansion of illegal settlements, U.S. military aid to Israel—currently at around $3.8 billion annually—has continued unabated and unimperiled regardless of Israeli policies and actions.