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Settlers ask Netanyahu to approve 10,000 housing units in West Bank

Illegal Israeli settlements, under construction are seen, in Palestinian lands in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2016. Settlement constructions by Israel continue in Ramat Shlomo, [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu Agency]
Illegal Israeli settlements, under construction are seen in Jerusalem, on 29 December 2016 [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu Agency]

Jewish settlers have asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve some 10,000 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, according to Ynet News.

The pro-settlement Yesha Council demanded the commitment of the prime minister in a meeting yesterday, amid outrage amongst settlers at American requests to hold back on construction.

The settlers claimed that Israeli authorities neglected illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank and the council's head Avi Roeh presented a letter, calling on Netanyahu to authorise the funding.

"The national government under your authority must lead the process of equal investments in the infrastructures in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]," he wrote.

"In Judea and Samaria, there are a number of plans ready for immediate implementation that will massively improve the quality of life for the residents of the area."

Read: Israel set to advance plans for 2,000 settlements homes next week

A meeting scheduled for this week between the West Bank Civil Administration's planning committee and the government was postponed on Sunday at the request of the Trump administration, prompting anger from settler communities. However, Netanyahu assured Israelis that pressure from the US was only temporary, and construction would not be too restricted.

In marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, several senior Israeli politicians have expressed their support for the ongoing settlement programme.

Earlier this month, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that settlements were Israel's "true defensive wall" at an event celebrating the Jewish New Year. He also promised to complete a plan to protect all the settlements with smart fences and better access roads by November.

Last month at a settlement event commemorating the 1967 war Netanyahu vowed not to evacuate any Jewish residents from the West Bank, declaring "we're here to stay forever".

He further told the thousands of attendees that any attempts to encourage Israel to abandon construction would be met with increased building.

Read: Israel to evacuate Bedouins in Khan Al-Ahmar by mid-2018

The occupied territories have witnessed a construction boom since US President Donald Trump took office, prompting many to observe that Israel has been bolstered by the strong Zionist stance of many of the president's closest officials.

Israel's persistent engagement in settlement activities has been universally condemned and all structures are illegal under international law. On 23 December 2016 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Israel to immediately and fully halt its settlement construction in the Palestinian territories.

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