US Vice President Mike Pence (L) meets with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during his visit in Jerusalem on 22 January 2018 (Photo by Haim Zach/GPO/Anadolu Agency)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (07:25 PM) – The US embassy used the occasion of Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the Israeli parliament on Monday as an excuse to send official invitations to illegal West Bank and Jewish-only settlement advocacy groups and members of messianic and religious extremist groups, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

According to Haaretz, a spokesperson for settler umbrella organisation called the Yesha Council, a spiritual successor to the now defunct Zionist extremist and far-right Gush Emunim sect, admitted that the chairman and the director of its foreign desk received official invitations to Pence’s speech to the Knesset.

The Yesha Council was founded in the 1970s, and is seen as the legal political arm of the, officially illegal, settler movement in the Palestinian West Bank. The Council openly promotes the foundation of ever more Jew-only settlements on Palestinian soil, which is in violation of international law. They have adapted many stances and policies from Gush Emunim, which was a radical sect that sought to hasten the arrival of the Jewish Messiah through colonisation of as much land as possible.

David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, is known as a staunch Yesha Council supporter. Friedman has in the past lobbied for illegal settlement funding, and has even been the chairman of a fundraiser organisation that collects money for the Beit El colony. US President Donald Trump is said to have contributed to Beit El out of his own personal funds in the past.

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