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In defiance of UN, Israel reportedly set to approve thousands of settler units

Image showing construction work to expand the Israeli settlement in Jerusalem [Mahfouz Abu Turk / ApaImages]
Construction work to expand the Israeli settlement in Jerusalem [Mahfouz Abu Turk / ApaImages]

Days after the UN Security Council approved a resolution affirming the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and called for their construction to cease, reports emerged that Israel is set to approve thousands of new settler units in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Local Planning and Building Committee of the Jerusalem municipality is expected to approve some 5,600 housing units in East Jerusalem for illegal settlements, the Hebrew version of daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported Sunday morning.

According to Israel Hayom, the move came as a direct response to the UNSC resolution 2334, that passed with unanimous approval from 14 council members, while the US abstained from voting.

On Friday, in was reported that in revenge for the potential evacuation of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank following the UN Security Council resolution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he is determined to demolish Arab homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Read: Israel to re-assess UN ties after settlement resolution, says Netanyahu

The reports said that the committee will approve 2,600 housing units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, 2,600 others in Givat HaMatos, and 400 units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement. A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports.

Israel Hayom also quoted deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meir Turjuman as saying that he “did not care” about the United Nations or “any other entity that tries to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem.

The deputy mayor also reportedly said he was looking forward to the incoming Donald Trump administration to “make up for the shortage in construction during Obama’s eight-year tenure.”

Despite the US government under Barack Obama, having routinely condemned Israel’s settlement expansions, US officials have yet to take any concrete actions to end settlement building and instead inadvertently encouraged the enterprise through consistent inaction over Israel’s violation of international law and continued support of the Israeli government through inflated military aid packages.

MEMO Commentary: The UN must not let Resolution 2334 be squandered

The number of settlers living in the occupied West Bank has increased from 281,100 in 2008 to 385,900 in 2015, excluding those residing in occupied East Jerusalem. The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 Israeli settlers currently reside in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.

Meanwhile, plans for some 3,000 settler units were advanced since the start 2016 as of August according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, including hundreds of existing units that were “retroactively legalised” after formerly being considered illegal under Israeli domestic law.

Israeli leadership has reacted with outrage and defiance since the UNSC approved the resolution, which states that settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law,” and call on the nations of the world “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”

Read: Israel recalls envoys from 2 states over UN resolution

 

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