Israel advanced some 8,000 settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) during the first half of 2017, a new European Union (EU) report has stated.
The total includes almost 5,000 housing units that “were promoted through plans” and almost 3,000 units that “were advanced through tenders”.
These developments, the EU document states, will ultimately enable “more than 30,000 Israeli settlers to move to the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.
The EU report notes that “continued settlement expansion, illegal under international law as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016), goes directly against long-standing EU policy and the recommendations of the Quartet Report (2016)”.
Israel pursued settlement expansion “through a variety of methods”, the report says, including the approval of a new settlement, “construction of housing units and public structures, the retroactive legalisation of existing outposts and the declaration of Palestinian territory as Israeli ‘state land’”.
According to the EU document, the total Israeli settler population in the oPt stands at more than 600,000, spread across some 142 locations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A “key development” during the six-month reporting period was “the establishment of a new settlement, Amihai, in the West Bank in proximity to the existing settlement of Shilo, and in proximity of numerous outposts”.
“In reality,” the report states, “it is the first official settlement that is established by a government decision since 1992,” noting that “another worrying development was the retroactive legalisation of the illegal outpost of Kerem Reim near Ramallah.”
Summing up, the EU document notes that “settlement related infrastructure projects like bypass roads, archaeological and touristic projects all contribute to continued settlement expansion and the strengthening of Israel’s presence and control of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”