Israeli President Shimon Peres called West Bank settlements a threat to Israel.
The remarks, made Tuesday at the annual ceremony in memory of Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, appeared to address a report released Sunday that said “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.
“It is doubtful that a Jewish state without a Jewish majority can remain Jewish,” Peres said, inferring that settlements would lead to the inextricable inclusion of the Palestinians living on the West Bank.
The Obama administration criticized an Israeli panel finding that West Bank settlements are legal under international law.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Monday evening in answer to a question about the Levy Committee report. Ventrell added that the State Department is “concerned about it, obviously.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns could bring up the report during meetings this week in Israel. Burns will be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the region.