UAE slams Israel's green light for evacuated West Bank settlements return

UAE slams Israel's green light for evacuated West Bank settlements return
The UAE statement comes after Israel voted to allow four abandoned Israeli settlements to be reoccupied.
2 min read
27 March, 2023
The Israeli parliament's move to allow Israelis back to four West Bank settlement outposts will not come into force until it has the army's approval [Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty-archive]

The UAE slammed on Sunday a move to allow Israelis back to four West Bank settlement outposts evacuated two decades ago.

The UAE foreign ministry issued a statement "affirming the UAE's rejection of all practices that violate resolutions on international legitimacy and threaten to further exacerbate escalation and instability in the region".

It "stressed the need to support all regional and international efforts to advance the peace process in the Middle East" and "put an end to illegal practices that threaten the two-state solution".

Israel's parliament, or Knesset, amended the 2005 Disengagement Law on Tuesday, meaning four key evacuated settlements can be reoccupied, although the Israeli military still needs to ratify this.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the law stops a "discriminatory and humiliating" ban on Jews living in this part of the occupied territory, the Haaretz newspaper reported, but that his government is not planning to construct new settlements there.

The US summoned the Israeli envoy to Washington after the decision to allow the resettlement of the sites.

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law and seen as a major obstacle to peace due to the landgrabs making an independent state almost unviable.

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The UAE statement called for a Palestinian state to be created according to the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Both the EU and Palestinian Authority decried the Knesset decision, while US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said Washington was "extremely troubled".

"The US strongly urges Israel to refrain from allowing the return of settlers to the area covered by the legislation," he added.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

The UAE's condemnation comes despite it being one of the Arab states that controversially agreed to normalise ties with Israel in 2020.

Normalisation is viewed by Palestinians as a betrayal of their national cause.

The Israeli amendment comes after the government agreed earlier this month to "stop authorisation of any outposts" for six months at a meeting with the Palestinian Authority, US, Jordan and Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh, according to the summit's final statement.

Outposts are settlements deemed illegal even under Israeli law.

The amendment also comes amid an uptick in violence against Palestinians, with more than 90 killed so far this year by Israeli forces and settlers – an average of more than one per day.