US Vice President Joe Biden has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his regime’s illegal settlement activities in the Palestinian occupied territories, saying Netanyahu is moving Israel in “wrong direction.”
In a speech to the Israel advocacy group J Street on Monday, Biden called the settlements an obstacle to a two-state solution, and denounced Israeli moves under Netanyahu as "counterproductive" to the Tel Aviv regime’s security.
"Settlement policies are hurting support for Israel and moving us further away from a two-state solution," Biden said.
"I firmly believe that the action Israel's government has taken over the past several years – the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures – they're moving us, and more important, they're moving Israel, in the wrong direction," Biden said.
"They're moving us toward a one-state reality, and that reality is dangerous,” he continued.
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 illegal settlement colonies built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on occupied lands.
In his speech, Biden also urged young American Jews to reject efforts to "delegitimize Israeli" and to speak out more forcefully against what he called the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe.
Kerry was referring to the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s policy of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
The boycott campaign against Israel began in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations, calling for "various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
Supporters of the movement include a growing number of American Jews. They have called such criticism a fearmongering and divisive tactic meant to prevent legitimate debate about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.