Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico on Friday decried Israel’s decision to further entrench its presence in the West Bank following a series of terror attacks in East Jerusalem.
A statement issued by Brazil’s foreign ministry and signed by the four nations expressed “deep concern” about Israel’s announcement last Sunday that it would retroactively legalize nine existing outposts in the West Bank and advance plans for the construction of 10,000 new homes there.
“These unilateral measures constitute serious violations of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” said the statement.
Most Western powers consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal and a violation of international law. Some 500,000 Israelis reside in settlements in the West Bank, where 2.9 million Palestinians live.
The return of leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the presidency on January 1 ended a four-year period of Brazilian alignment with Israel under his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who had even raised moving the South American country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem.
In their statement, the Latin American governments called on both sides “to refrain from acts and provocations that could promote a new escalation of violence” in the region, and urged negotiations for a “peaceful solution” to the long-standing conflict.
The four countries joined a long list that have already spoken out against the Sunday cabinet decision, which was framed as a response to attacks in East Jerusalem that left 11 Israelis dead in recent weeks. Nearly 50 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the year as well — most in clashes with troops but several under less clear circumstances being investigated by the IDF.
Apparently seeking to minimize the damage, Israeli officials have given anonymous statements to Hebrew media, noting that the outposts being legalized have existed for years and that it will take years before ground is broken for the settlement homes being advanced. However, many of the outposts being legalized sit on private Palestinian land and the package of 10,000 settlement homes that Israel seeks to advance will be the largest-ever amount green-lit in one sitting.
The Biden administration has issued several rebukes of Israel over the move, but also announced Thursday that it does not support a UN Security Council resolution being prepped for a vote as early as Monday that calls for an immediate halt to settlement activity. Not wanting to use its veto, the US has been lobbying countries to support a more symbolic joint statement to the same effect, UN diplomats said.
While the international community considers all settlements illegal, Israel differentiates between settlement homes built and permitted by the Defense Ministry on land owned by the state, and illegal outposts built without necessary permits, often on private Palestinian land. However, outposts are sometimes established with the state’s tacit approval, and successive governments have sought to legalize at least some of the 100-plus unrecognized communities as a result.