US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony BlinkenState Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken published an official response to decision of the Israeli Security Cabinet to authorize nine communities in Judea and Samaria in response to the recent murderous terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. These communities have existed for many years; some have existed for decades.

"We are deeply troubled by Israel’s decision yesterday to advance reportedly nearly 10,000 settlement units and to begin a process to retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank that were previously illegal under Israeli law," Blinken wrote.

"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," he added.

"As I have previously stated, anything that takes us away from the vision of two states for two peoples 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. We call on all parties to avoid additional actions that can further escalate tensions in the region and to take practical steps that can improve the well-being of the Palestinian people," Blinken concluded.

A senior Israeli political figure said in response to the Secretary of State's statements: "We were not surprised by the US' position. We have had differences of opinion for decades on this issue, even though we are not talking about new settlements but rather the regulation of settlements that have existed for many years, some of them for decades. These differences of opinion have not and will not harm the strong alliance between Israel and the US."

Israel's Security Cabinet on Sunday decided unanimously to authorize nine communities in Judea and Samaria, which have existed for many years and some of which have existed for decades.

The communities that will be authorized are:
1. Avigil
2. Bet Hogla
3. Givat Harel / Haroeh
4. Givat Arnon
5. Mitzpe Yehuda
6. Malachei Hashalom
7. Ashael
8. Sde Boaz
9. Shaharit

The Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee will be convened in the coming days to approve the construction of new residential units in existing communities in Judea and Samaria.

The decision followed Friday’s deadly ramming attack in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem, in which three people were murdered, including two young boys aged 6 and 8.