Illustrative photo – The Jewish settlement of Efrat in the West Bank, January 30, 2023.
Berlin/London – Six European countries have condemned recent attacks by Palestinians that killed Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank. At the same time, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain called on Israel to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories it occupies. The six countries stated this in a joint statement today.
“We strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in which Israeli citizens were killed. Terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances. At the same time, we strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, including the destruction of their homes and property,” the European states said. “We call on the Israeli government to reverse its recent decision to move forward with the construction of more than 7,000 housing units throughout the occupied West Bank, as well as the legalization of settlements,” they added.
Tensions between Israel and Palestine have escalated in the past year with intensified raids by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian militants in the West Bank. The army started using them about a year ago after several Palestinian terrorist attacks in which three dozen people were killed. In one year, the soldiers arrested 2,500 radicals, but 170 Palestinians, including civilians, lost their lives in clashes last year. Another six dozen Palestinians died in raids this year, again including several civilians.
Tensions in the West Bank intensified even after the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu took office. It contains ministers who promote the expansion of settlements in this territory, which the Palestinians want together with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem for their state. Most of the international community considers the expansion of settlements to be illegal.
In mid-February, the Israeli authorities legalized another nine Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, which was criticized by the United States, among others. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir responded by saying at the time that “the territory of Israel belongs to the Israeli people” and that he wanted “much more” settlements.