Middle East: Federal Foreign Office criticizes Israel’s return to settlements

Middle East: Federal Foreign Office criticizes Israel’s return to settlements

A change in the law would allow Israelis to return to four evacuated settlements in the West Bank. The Federal Foreign Office describes the decision as a “dangerous step”.

The Foreign Office has sharply criticized the Israeli parliament’s decision to allow settlers to return to four West Bank settlements. The change in the law that has now taken place “represents a dangerous step towards possible renewed settlement activities,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, according to a statement. “This threatens to further aggravate the already tense security situation in the West Bank.” The Federal Foreign Office tweeted that travel to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is currently not recommended.

On Tuesday, the Israeli parliament decided to partially reverse the 2005 decision to withdraw from four settlements in the northern West Bank. “The federal government is very concerned about this,” said the spokeswoman. Keeping promises once made is also a question of contractual reliability. The decision contradicts the intention of the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which was only reached on Sunday, to refrain from taking unilateral steps for a period of four to six months.

According to the amendment, settlers should be able to return to the four towns of Khomesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sanur, which were also evacuated as part of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Since then, settlers have returned on their own several times. They were then forced to evacuate again. Even before the decision was taken, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry had warned of an “escalation of the conflict”.

Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. Almost 600,000 Israelis live there today in more than 200 settlements. In 2016, the UN Security Council labeled these settlements a violation of international law and called on Israel to halt all settlement activities. The Palestinians want to set up their own states in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The right-wing conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly announced that large parts of the West Bank will be annexed.

Source: Stern

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