Netanyahu vows never to remove Israeli settlements
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed never to evacuate illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank on Monday, drawing outrage from Palestinian officials.
The right-wing leader's pledge came after a meeting earlier in the day with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is on a three-day tour in Israel and Palestine to discuss efforts to restart peace talks
"We have returned here for eternity," Netanyahu said, speaking at a ceremony in the settlement of Barkan in the northern West Bank.
"There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel. Settlements will not be uprooted."
"There is a momentum of development in Judea and Samaria," he added.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, denounced Netanyahu's comments and said they hinder US peace efforts.
"This is an Israeli message to the US administration," he said. "We call upon the US administration to deal with these provocations," which hinder US peace efforts and are "an attempt to return things to square one."
|Netanyahu appears to have been emboldened by the election of Trump, who broke with decades of US foreign policy earlier this year by not endorsing the two-state solution|
Netanyahu appears to have been emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, who broke with decades of US foreign policy earlier this year by not endorsing the two-state solution.
Trump also has surrounded himself with a team of advisers who are longstanding supporters of settlements, including Kushner, who is leading US peace efforts.
During the Obama administration, Netanyahu paid lip service to the idea of a two-state solution, but since Trump's election he has avoided talk of Palestinian independence or territorial withdrawals.
Key members of Netanyahu's government advocate annexing most of the West Bank.
'No plan B'
Speaking after a meeting with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday, UN chief Guterres said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained the only viable option.
"I want to express very strongly the total commitment of the United Nations but my personal total commitment to do everything for a two-state solution to materialise," he said.
"I have said several times there is no Plan B to a two-state solution."
He also condemned Israeli settlements as a "major obstacle" to peace, while also noting that they are "illegal under international law".
|Over 600,000 Israeli Jews now live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, making a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible|
Palestinian officials have expressed impatience with Kushner's slow start to revive talks, saying they have received no clear vision from the US.
Hamdallah on Tuesday said the Palestinian leadership was waiting for US officials to formulate a clear approach.
"What the US administration is saying is that they are still scouting and listening," he said.
"But during the last round, (Abbas) brought up settlements and the two-state solution. What is the position of the US administration regarding these two topics?
"So far, the US administration has not responded to these two questions, and promised they will be back in the next few weeks with clarifications and a work plan for the next phase."
Over 600,000 Israeli Jews now live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, making a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible.