Hours after Israel’s Civil Administration gave approval to 463 housing units in Samaria, the Obama administration issued a firm rebuke, condemning the move and warning that Israel risked undermining “the prospects for a two-state solution”.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday evening, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest expressed the administration’s “concern” for the Israeli government’s green-lighting of the housing projects, saying they posed a “growing threat” to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"We are deeply concerned by the government of Israel's announcement today to advance plans for over 500 new settlement units in the West Bank," Earnest said.
"This significant expansion of the settlement enterprise poses a very serious and growing threat to the viability of the two-state solution.”
But while US condemnation of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria is nothing new, the White House Press Secretary also challenged the Civil Administration’s decision to give retroactive approval to existing homes inside established towns not far from the Green Line, indicating an even more stringent stance against Israeli policies in the territories liberated in 1967.
"We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlement units," added Earnest. "These policies have effectively given the government's green light for the pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way.”
Earnest went on to cite the recent report by the Middle East Quartet – which includes the US, UN, EU, and Russia – blasting what he termed “settlement expansions”.
"As the Quartet report highlights, we are concerned about a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations," Earnest said, claiming Israel’s decision "fundamentally undermines the prospects for a two-state solution and risks entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict."
Earlier on Wednesday, a Civil Administration housing committee approved 284 new housing units across Samaria, including 234 for a retirement home in Elkana, as well as 30 private homes in Beit Aryeh and 20 housing units in Givat Ze’ev.
The committee also granted retroactive approval to 179 existing homes built in Ofarim.
On Monday, a United Nations Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, lambasted Israel for what he described as a steep increase in construction across both eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.