John Kirby
John KirbyREUTERS/Jim Bourg

The United States on Friday reiterated its opposition to new construction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir urged the residents of Judea and Samaria to “run for the hilltops”.

Ben Gvir made the comments during a visit to the outpost of Evyatar, to which groups of people arrived following this week’s murderous attack near Eli, in which four Israelis were murdered.

"My position is known. I give you full and complete support, but I want much more than the community here, there needs to be a full settlement here, not only here, but in all the hills around us,” Ben Gvir told the residents.

“The Land of Israel must be settled, and at the same time as the settlement of the Land, a military operation must be launched, buildings taken down, terrorists eliminated, not one or two, but tens and hundreds, and if necessary even thousands. Because in the end, this is the only way we will hold on here, strengthen control and restore security to the residents, and above all we will fulfill our great mission. The Land of Israel is for the people of Israel, we support you. Run for the hilltops, settle there. We love you," he added.

Asked about Ben Gvir’s comments at the White House daily briefing later on Friday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “We have been clear and consistent that we do not support additional settlement activity. Our policy with respect to settlements has not changed and will not change, and we have been very consistent in communicating that directly to government officials in Israel.”

“I can’t speak to their comments, or why they’re saying what they’re saying, that’s a better question for them,” continued Kirby. “I can just tell you that our policy on settlements has not changed.”

Earlier this week, the US criticized Israel’s decision to advance the planning of over 4,500 housing units in various communities in Judea and Samaria, saying it is “deeply troubled” by it.

“We are similarly concerned by reports of changes to Israel’s system of settlement administration that expedite the planning and approvals of settlements,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement, referring to the regulations that would see the approval process for construction in Judea and Samaria be reduced to just two stages from the current six stages.

“As has been longstanding policy, the United States opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace. We call on the Government of Israel to fulfill the commitments it made in Aqaba, Jordan and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and return to dialogue aimed at de-escalation,” he added.

The new Israeli construction was also criticized by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said that “settlements are a flagrant violation of international law. They are a major obstacle to the realization of a viable two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The expansion of these illegal settlements is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)