The US expects the Israeli government to ensure full accountability for a series of attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank and legal prosecution for those responsible, the State Department said Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned by the rising levels of violence in the West Bank in recent months. There are troubling reports of extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians, including the death of a Palestinian child and other injuries,” said deputy spokesman Vedant Patel.
“We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution for those responsible for these attacks, in addition to compensation for lost homes and property,” Patel added.
On Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to go ahead with 1,000 new settlement homes in Eli, he said: “We’ve been very clear about this that unilateral actions such as this one, such as settlement advancement, will only incite tensions and undermine the prospect of a two-state solution.”
The US continues to engage with its partners in the region to “restore calm,” Patel said, noting that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf has travelled to the region to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“In Jerusalem, the assistant secretary will meet with senior Israeli political and military leaders to discuss areas of mutual interest, including expanding and deepening Israel’s integration into the Middle East and constraining Iran’s destabilizing behavior. In Ramallah, she will meet with senior Palestinian leaders to discuss priority issues, including US efforts to support the Palestinian people.”
Patel also condemned an attack on Israeli settlers on Tuesday by two Palestinian gunmen near an illegal statement in the occupied West Bank, offering his condolences and saying there is “no justification for terrorism.”
At least four Israeli settlers were killed in the shooting, which occurred a day after a deadly raid carried out by Israeli troops.
– Normalization between Azerbaijan and Armenia
Turning to the ongoing normalization process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Patel emphasized the importance of “direct dialogue.”
“We look forward to hosting another round of talks in Washington soon as the parties continue to pursue a peaceful future in the South Caucasus region. We continue to believe direct dialogue is key to resolving issues and reaching a durable and dignified peace,” he said.
“Steps that incite tensions and elevate tensions are certainly unproductive right now. Talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan are proceeding in different venues, and so we’ll continue to engage on this and look forward to hosting another round of talks very soon,” he said, hinting that the US will welcome Russia playing a constructive role in the process.
Meanwhile, when asked about Türkiye’s recent operation in Syria, Patel said: “Türkiye, of course, is an important NATO ally, and we continue to consult with them on a number of issues broadly, as it relates to that region.”
He said that one of the key priorities for the US is to ensure that efforts to degrade the influence of the Daesh/ISIS terror group are not impeded.