SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Senior US officials are considering imposing sanctions on Israel to halt its illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories, including East al-Quds (Jerusalem), according to media reports.
The sanctions discussions reportedly began in October after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama in Washington and the two clashed over new construction projects in occupied Palestine, the Times of Israel and Haaretz reported.
The Obama administration has repeatedly warned the Israeli regime that continued expansion of Israeli settlements will hurt the so-called peace process.
However, US administration officials have refused to discuss the reports.
“I’m not going to talk about any internal deliberations,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday during a press briefing after he was pressed about discussions on sanctions.
While Earnest reaffirmed the strong ties between Washington and Tel Aviv, he called the settlement projects “illegitimate” and said the US was “deeply concerned” about them.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf also refused to answer questions about the issue. “I’m obviously not going to comment one way or another on reported internal deliberations,” she said on Thursday. “We’ve made clear our position on settlement activity publicly and that hasn’t changed.”
The sanctions report has outraged pro-Israel members of Congress who are demanding that the White House clarify its position. “We urge you and your administration to clarify these reports immediately,” Representative Mark Meadows and nearly 50 other House lawmakers wrote to Obama on Friday.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.