In a rare step in US-Israel relations, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, was summoned for a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Tuesday in the wake of Israel’s “provocative’ repeal of the Disengagement Law.
Following the meeting, Deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel stated: “The Deputy Secretary conveyed US concern regarding legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset rescinding important aspects of the 2005 Disengagement Law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank.”
“They also discussed the importance of all parties refraining from actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions leading into the Ramadan, Passover, and Easter holidays” – a likely reference to Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich’s remarks that “there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people.”
Patel previously slammed Smotrich’s remarks, saying that the Biden administration believes his remarks to be “not only inaccurate but also deeply concerning and dangerous.”
“The Palestinians have a rich history and culture,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Patel slammed Israel’s repeal of the Disengagement Law, saying: “The United States is extremely troubled that the Israeli Knesset has passed legislation rescinding important parts of the 2005 Disengagement Law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank.”
“We have been clear that advancing settlements is an obstacle to peace and the achievement of a two-state solution. This certainly includes creating new settlements, building or legalizing outposts, or allowing building of any kind on private Palestinian land located deep in the West Bank or adjacent to Palestinian communities — all of which would be facilitated by this legal change.
“Just two days ago, Israel reaffirmed its commitment to stop any discussion of any new settlements for four months and to stop the authorization of outposts for six months,” Patel continued. “Coming at a time of heightened tensions, the legislative changes announced today are particularly provocative and counterproductive to efforts to restore some measure of calm as we head into Ramadan, Passover and the Easter holidays.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)