The Foreign Office has sharply criticized the Israeli parliament's decision to allow settlers to return to four West Bank settlements. The change in the law that has now taken place represents "a dangerous step towards possible renewed settlement activities," said a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office on Wednesday, according to a statement. "This threatens to further aggravate the already tense security situation in the West Bank."
The Federal Foreign Office tweeted that travel to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is currently not recommended, "because intensified clashes are currently to be expected there".
On Tuesday, the Israeli parliament decided to partially reverse the 2005 decision to withdraw from four settlements in the northern West Bank. "The federal government is very concerned about this," said the spokeswoman. Keeping promises once made is also a question of contractual reliability. The decision contradicts the intention of the agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which was only reached on Sunday, to refrain from taking unilateral steps for a period of four to six months.
Israeli settlers are allowed to return to four settlements in the northern West Bank that were vacated nearly two decades ago, according to a parliamentary decision. The parliament in Jerusalem voted in the last reading earlier this week for a corresponding change in the law. This is intended to enable the resettlement of the four towns of Khomesch, Ganim, Kadim and Sanur, which were also evacuated as part of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Since then, settlers have returned on their own several times. They were then forced to evacuate again.
31 out of 120 MEPs voted in favor of the draft, 18 against. The rest were absent or abstained. Even before the decision was taken, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry had warned of an "escalation of the conflict".
Last month, following deadly Palestinian attacks in East Jerusalem, the government decided to legalize nine unauthorized settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank. The US and the EU expressed concern about this.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. Almost 600,000 Israelis live there today in more than 200 settlements. In 2016, the UN Security Council labeled these settlements a violation of international law and called on Israel to halt all settlement activity.
The Palestinians want to set up their own states in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The right-wing conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had repeatedly announced that other parts of the West Bank would be annexed. However, in exchange for a rapprochement agreement with the United Arab Emirates in 2020, he had suspended these plans. However, Israel continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem thereafter.