By Mahmoud Barakat
ANKARA (AA) – The US State Department has summoned Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog to Washington, over a recently amended law on legitimizing settlements in the northern West Bank.
Herzog met with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman on Tuesday, according to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel.
“The Deputy Secretary conveyed U.S. concern regarding legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset rescinding important aspects of the 2005 Disengagement Law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank,” Patel said.
The officials also “discussed the importance of all parties refraining from actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions leading into the Ramadan, Passover, and Easter holidays.”
On Tuesday, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the second and third readings of a bill to allow Israeli settlers to resettle in four settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The bill rolled back legislation that ordered the evacuation of the illegal outposts of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim, and Sa-Nur in the occupied territory in 2005.
The evacuation of the outposts was part of a disengagement plan implemented by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that saw Israel remove more than 9,000 settlers in 21 illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.
Estimates indicate about 650,000 settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.