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On Feb. 22, Israel’s radical Finance Minster Bezalel Smotrich announced that his government was approving 3,000 new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. They are planned for an area called Ma’ale Adumim, which is near the site where an Israeli had just been shot by Palestinians earlier that same day. Smotrich’s office said the announcement of the settlements was an “appropriate Zionist response” to the attack.

“Let every terrorist plotting to harm us know that raising a hand against the citizens of Israel will be met with death, destruction, and the deepening of our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel,” Smotrich said in a statement.

In response, Secretary of State Blinken called the announcement “counterproductive,” and said the settlements are against international law. “On settlements, we’ve seen the reports, and I have to say we’re disappointed in the announcement. It’s been longstanding U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace. They’re also inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion. And in our judgment, this only weakens—it doesn’t strengthen—Israel’s security,” he insisted.

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