The United States says it is “deeply dismayed” by Israeli settlement expansion plans. It also says a United Nations proposal to denounce the same settlements is “unhelpful”.
Palestinian rights advocates say the contradiction underscores President Joe Biden’s unwillingness to meaningfully counter violations that Israel’s far-right government has committed against Palestinians.
Without action, mere statements against Israeli policies are “meaningless”, said Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center Washington DC, a think tank.
“Israel knows it’s just an expression of dissatisfaction. Whether it’s a ‘regret’ or ‘deep concern’, whatever the diplomatic term du jour is, still the administration will not do anything practical about it to hold Israel responsible for its behaviour,” Jahshan told Al Jazeera.
US President Joe Biden is a self-proclaimed Zionist and hawkish supporter of Israel. But on Monday, his administration issued rare, unsolicited criticism of an Israeli plan to build 10,000 settlement units in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, saying Washington was “deeply troubled” by the move.
A day later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom in rejecting the Israeli move.
“We strongly oppose these unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution,” the diplomats said in a joint statement.
On Thursday, White House spokesperson Kaine Jean-Pierre said Washington was “deeply dismayed” by the Israeli announcement.
But an hour or so later, when State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel was asked about a draft UN Security Council resolution that would call on Israel to cease settlement activity, he denounced the measure.
“The introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two-state solution,” Patel told reporters without confirming whether Washington would veto the proposal.