The US has linked its new defense aid agreement with Israel’s policy in Judea and Samaria.
In the first such move, the administration of President Barack Obama said Israeli support for the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria was endangering the nation’s security.
The administration said an Israeli decision to approve Jewish housing in Judea and Samaria came within weeks of the signing of a defense memorandum of understanding with Washington, valued at $38 billion over a decade.
“It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
In a statement on Oct. 5, the State Department did not threaten to block U.S. defense aid to Israel in wake of its decision to approve up to 300 housing units in a Jewish community in the West Bank.
But the statement marked the first linkage between future U.S. defense aid to Jewish settlement.
“The retroactive authorization of nearby illegal outposts, or redrawing of local settlement boundaries, does not change the fact that this approval contradicts previous public statements by the government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements,” Toner said. “And this settlement’s location deep in the West Bank, far closer to Jordan than Israel, would link a string of outposts that effectively divide the West Bank and make the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote.”
Diplomatic sources said the State Department linkage of U.S. defense aid to Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria epresented an effort by President Barack Obama to impose restrictions on Israel after the November 2016 elections.
They said the moves could include U.S. support for a United Nations Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions on Israel as well as conditions on U.S. defense aid.
“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution,” the State Department said. “Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.”