[JURIST] A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May [official website] on Friday condemned [Reuters report] remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry [official website] on the current Israeli government. In a speech [text] given on Thursday, Kerry criticized the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, stating that such actions jeopardize prospects of peace in the Middle East. Kerry continued on to state that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s [official website] “current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” May’s spokesman responded by stating the remark was inappropriate and that a resolution to the current situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will require the support of the international community. Later on Friday, the State Department expressed its surprise with the British response and stated that it was counter to both the Britain’s affirmative vote on the UN resolution that condemned the building of Israeli settlements and to their long-held international policies.
Recent conflicts between Israel and Palestine [HRW backgrounder] over settlements in the occupied West Bank have raised concerns over possible human rights violations. Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed concern [JURIST report] over proposed legislation in Israel that would retroactively legalize the Israeli outposts constructed on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Last month the Israel High Court of Justice ruled that the controversial Amona settlement in the West Bank must be dismantled [JURIST report] by December 25. Earlier the same month Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved [JURIST report] the Formalization Bill to legalize the West Bank outposts, which was intended in part to stop the evacuation of Amona outpost. In March the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern [JURIST report] over the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian man in the West Bank. In January Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] businesses to cease operations in Israel settlements. In August 2015 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides of the conflict [JURIST report] to reconcile and move towards peace after an attack occurred in the West Bank village of Duma, where Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while a family slept inside. In April 2015 HRW alleged [HRW report] that Israeli settlement farmers in the occupied West Bank were using Palestinian child laborers in dangerous conditions in violation of international laws.