Israel Defies Joe Biden In Big Push

( With the United States certain to object, Israel on Sunday retroactively authorized nine Jewish settler outposts in the occupied West Bank and promised widespread building of new houses inside existing settlements.

Two pro-settler MPs who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition following the November 1 election were the first to announce the security cabinet’s conclusions.

The settlements are illegal in the eyes of most of the international community because they are built on territory that the Palestinians want to use to establish their own independent state. This is something Israel denies. According to Peace Now, a monitoring organization, Israel has constructed 132 settlements in the West Bank since conquering the territory in a war in 1967.

A number of illegal settlements have been built in recent years by hardline settlers. The police have demolished some, while others were permitted after the fact. Sunday’s nine approvals mark the beginning of Netanyahu’s administration. According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, a planning committee will meet in the coming days to authorize additional settlement houses. Bezalel Smotrich, minister of finance for the extreme right, estimated a figure of 10,000.

The government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Sunday that the statement should be “condemned and rejected,” referring to the failure of U.S.-sponsored statehood discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2014.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, described it as a challenge to U.S. and Arab efforts and a provocation to the Palestinian people, adding that it would lead to increased tension and escalation.

Last month, Ambassador Thomas Nides said the United States government would oppose such measures.

In an interview with Israel’s Kan television on January 11, he said they have been very clear about the ideas of legalizing outposts and massive settlement expansion — it will not keep the vision of the two-state solution alive, in which case they will oppose it, and they will be very clear about their opposition.

According to statements made by Smotrich and fellow ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu’s administration, the settlement expansion is, in part, a reaction to the recent Palestinian assaults. However, these preparations had already been made before their coalition was sworn in on December 29.

West Bank settler leader Yossi Dagan welcomed the decision but called for a thorough lifting of development limits to permit construction in full swing.

Hamas Islamists in Gaza, who rule the other Palestinian region, oppose peace talks with Israel.