US opposes Israel's 'reoccupation', any shrinking of Gaza

Agence France-Presse
US opposes Israel's 'reoccupation', any shrinking of Gaza
A picture taken in Gaza City shows debris from destroyed buildings and smoke billowing in the background during Israeli bombardment on February 20, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday reaffirmed Washington's opposition to any reoccupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel as well as any reduction of the Palestinian territory's size.

Blinken's remarks were in response to a plan for post-war Gaza put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which his country's army would have "indefinite freedom" to operate throughout the Gaza Strip once Hamas is defeated.

"Gaza... cannot be a platform for terrorism. There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. The size of Gaza territory should not be reduced," Blinken said in Buenos Aires, after attending a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Brazil.

Blinken reaffirmed Washington's support for Israel's right to "self-defense" after a Thursday attack near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, in which three Palestinians fired on vehicles, killing one and wounding eight.

Palestinians have complained of worsening Israeli-imposed restrictions in the West Bank since the outbreak of the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.

Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a "firm security response... and colonization" by building thousands of new housing units in settlements like Maale Adumim and across the West Bank.

Blinken said that "new settlements are counterproductive to reaching enduring peace, and also inconsistent with international law."

"Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion. In our judgment, this only weakens, it doesn't strengthen, Israel's security."

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