The United States on Tuesday criticized Israel, saying it was “deeply concerned” by what it called a “provocative” vote in the Israeli parliament and denounced statements by an Israeli minister denying the existence of the Palestinian people.

“The United States is particularly concerned that the Israeli Knesset has adopted legislation that repeals significant parts of the 2005 Disengagement Act,” US State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“The legislative amendments announced are particularly challenging and counterproductive to our efforts to restore calm as we enter the Ramadan and Easter celebration periods,” he said during a press briefing.

The Jewish settler movement won a victory in Israel’s parliament on Tuesday by overturning a law banning Israelis from entering an area in the northern West Bank from which Jewish residents were expelled in 2005.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, evacuating Jewish settlements in that Palestinian territory, as well as four Jewish settlements in the northern part of the West Bank, on the outskirts of Nablus.

The law passed to allow this disengagement has since prohibited Israelis from going to those areas, but an amendment that was finally adopted in a vote in parliament now allows them to return to the vacated part of the northern West Bank.

The US representative called on Israel “not to allow the return of settlers” to the region while refusing to talk about possible retaliation against the Israeli government.

Patel also called “insulting” and “dangerous” the statements of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who denied the existence of a Palestinian people in a speech in Paris on Sunday.

“We consider these statements to be not only inaccurate, but also alarming and dangerous,” Patel said, stressing, however, that the minister was not “the only one in the Israeli government.”

Smotrich made these statements on the same day that negotiations were being held in Egypt in an attempt to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan, and while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is marked by a new vicious cycle of violence that has already caused the death of more than a hundred people since beginning of the year.