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Israel to approve construction of thousands of new settlement units

Construction workers build illegal settlements in West Bank on 25 August, 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
Construction workers build illegal settlements in West Bank on 25 August, 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to approve the construction of 3,300 new settlement units during the next meeting of the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee, which is set to be held on 16 October, Israel’s Channel 7 has reported. Netanyahu made his pledge during a closed meeting on Wednesday with the leaders of the Yesha Council of the West Bank Settlements.

Although all of Israel’s settlements are built on occupied Palestinian territory and are illegal under international law, Netanyahu claims that the Trump administration is prepared to “tolerate” limited settlement building. He told the settlers’ group that he has succeeded in convincing Trump to drop its distinction between settlement blocs and so-called isolated settlements. The US President is, he added, almost ready to present a plan for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Most of the settlement blocs are large built-up areas located near the Green (1949 Armistice) Line which separates the occupied West Bank from Israel. “Isolated” settlements are located in more far-flung areas of the West Bank and are surrounded by numerous Palestinian homes. They are mostly illegal even under Israeli law.

The Israeli leader also reiterated his promise to build 300 new homes in the settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah. These will replace a number of homes in the settlement which were demolished in 2012.

Read: Who will stop the Israeli settlements?

The settlers’ committee called for the government to bring forward the construction of 10,000 housing units in the settlements of Negohot and Migron, as well as in the predominantly Arab West Bank city of Hebron, following the eight-year new settlement construction “freeze” in the occupied territory which was imposed by former US President Barack Obama.

The international community has repeatedly said that the continuous Israeli settlement activity is an “obstacle to peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. Settlements have 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 halt immediately and fully its settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Nevertheless, this week Netanyahu attended “The Jubilee Celebration of the Liberation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights” which was held in Tel Aviv’s Gush Etzion settlement to “celebrate” 50 years of Israel’s colonial-settlement programme. The event was reported to have been boycotted by several foreign countries and the European Union.

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