Washington (AFP/APP): Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday criticized Israel’s moves to advance settlements, warning that the US ally was aggravating tensions with the Palestinians following recent violence.
“We are deeply troubled by Israel’s decision” on Sunday to legalize nine West Bank outposts and reported plans to move ahead with the construction of 10,000 settlement units, Blinken said in a statement.
“Like previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, we strongly oppose such unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.”
The criticism, while still in diplomatic language, was unusual as it was issued as a statement in Blinken’s name, not a comment from the spokesperson.
The Israeli moves come on the heels of a visit by Blinken to the region in which he explicitly warned against settlement activity as he sought to ease tensions following violence.
“Anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two people is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security, its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, and to our vision of equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken said in Monday’s statement.
Blinken has previously said that President Joe Biden’s administration would judge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government by its actions, not by personalities inside of it.

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