The United States is opposed to efforts by the new Israeli government to legalize the Homesh settlement, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.
Price called the settlement “illegal even under Israeli law.”
“Our call to refrain from unilateral steps certainly includes any decision to create a new settlement, legalize outposts or allow the building of any kind deep in the West Bank adjacent to Palestinian communities or on private Palestinian land,” Price said.
Price’s comments came just two days after the new Netanyahu government informed Israel’s High Court of Justice that it plans to change its policy toward the Homesh settlement as part of its coalition agreements.
Homesh is a Jewish-Israeli settlement in the Samaria region, between the Palestinian Arab cities of Jenin and Nablus. Homesh was one of four settlements evacuated in the 2005 Disengagement under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that also saw Israel’s extraction of all Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip.
While the Israeli government distinguishes between settlements built on land owned by the State of Israel as opposed to settlements built on land owned by Palestinians, the international community considers almost all settlements to be illegal.
Legalizing the Homesh settlement will be difficult as Israel’s High Court of Justice recognized Palestinian land ownership in Homesh in 2013. The court also granted the property owners the right to farm the land.
Last May, the Bennett-Lapid government told the High Court that it considered the settlement illegal and would expel all its residents. However, the government did not set a date for this expulsion, and settlers have continued to live there.
The High Court demanded that the government explain why the settlement should not be dismantled and why it hadn’t taken steps to return the land to the Palestinian landowners.
In December 2021, a Jewish settler was killed when Palestinians fired on a group of yeshiva students at the settlement.
On Wednesday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau visited the Homesh yeshiva to give a lecture to the students.
“I wanted to come here after the murder of Yehuda Dimentman, but I was unable to. Fortunately, I was able to come today,” said Lau.
The Biden administration recently reiterated its policy of support for a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and views all of the West Bank – Judea and Samaria – which Israel secured in 1967 after a 19-year occupation by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as the territory of a future Palestinian state.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.