Israel has denied charges of criminal negligence against its construction and development projects.
According to a statement issued on Sunday, the Israeli attorney general’s office alleged that the government is guilty of criminal neglect of the environment in its construction of the new Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, located on the occupied West Bank.
The statement added that the state is liable for damages to natural and manmade objects and for damages resulting from the pollution caused by the development.
The government’s defense is that the Kiryathar Arba settlement is not in the “zone of responsibility” of Israel for the effects of construction on the environment.
The Israeli government’s decision to stop construction of Kiriyat Arbalas settlement was announced in a decision that was published in a Hebrew-language newspaper on Friday.
The move came after months of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers, as well as other ministers and senior officials in the government, signed a joint declaration with the US, which said the construction of Israel’s “illegal” settlement on the West Bank would end immediately.
“The statement by the attorney general was made to the defense of the state of Israel,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry.
“The statement has been translated into English and is being released as part of the government’s media strategy to raise awareness of the situation.”
Palmor added that while the statement is meant to serve as a reminder to the international community of Israel and the illegal construction of its settlements on the Palestinian territory, it was also aimed at the defense.
The move is a response to the criticism voiced by the United Nations, which called on the Israeli government to immediately halt construction and dismantle the settlements.
The United States has said it has no plans to stop its embassy from operating in Israel.
“We strongly urge the government to reconsider the decision to close the Kiriyatan Arba and the Kirya settlement in the West to Israeli construction,” said the US State Department in a statement on Saturday.
“We call on Israel to respect international law and respect the right of Palestinians to build their own settlements.”