Israel's approval this week of the construction of an additional 98 housing units in Shiloh, a settlement in the West Bank, elicited a sharp response from the New York Times on Thursday.
"If the aim of the Israeli government is to prevent a peace deal with the Palestinians, now or in the future, it’s close to realizing that goal," the newspaper wrote in an editorial titled "At the Boiling Point with Israel."
The construction decision, it added, was "another step in the steady march under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build on land needed to create a Palestinian state."
Maintaining that Netanyahu "obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks," the newspaper said it was now up to President Barack Obama "to find another way to preserve the option" of a two-state solution.
The best idea under discussion now, the Times said, "would be to have the United Nations Security Council, in an official resolution, lay down guidelines for a peace agreement, covering such issues as Israel’s security, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and borders for both states.
"The most plausible pressure would come from Mr. Obama’s leading the Security Council to put its authority behind a resolution to support a two-state solution and offer the outlines of what that could be. That may seem like a bureaucratic response unlikely to change anything, but it is the kind of political pressure Mr. Netanyahu abhors and has been working assiduously to prevent".
The newspaper described the construction decision as "especially insulting," coming just a few weeks after the United States and Israel concluded a defense agreement guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in military aid over 10 years.
"However important weapons and military assistance are, the best chance of improving Israel’s security lies in reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians," according to the New York Times.
"The ever expanding settlements have poisoned Palestinian hopes and functioned variously as a spark, a target and an excuse for violence, intensifying the conflict."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now