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More than 19,000 illegal settlement units built in Netanyahu era

An aerial view of a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem on 4 October 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
An aerial view of a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem on 4 October 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli rights group Peace Now has pointed out that more than 19,000 settlement units were built in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem during the Netanyahu era, Quds Press reported on Tuesday. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

According to the rights group, 13,608 settlement units (70 per cent) were built in isolated settlements which Israel might evacuate if a permanent deal is ever reached with the Palestinians. This number of housing units means an increase in the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories of at least 60,000.

Between 2008 and 2017, Peace Now noted, 132,300 settlers were moved into the occupied territories, raising the total number of settlers to 413,100 by the end of 2017.

Netanyahu’s government has recently revealed that it has invested NIS10.272 billion ($3bn) in the Israeli settlements. Peace Now said that this money did not include the security costs or funds paid for paving streets and other community infrastructure.

READ: Israel advances 3,600 new settlement units deep in West Bank

The group pointed to a “worrying” trend in the increase of building in the settlements which could be evacuated in the future. The intention, claimed Peace Now, is simply to create facts on the ground. The trend has accelerated since Donald Trump became US President.

“For a decade, Netanyahu has funded 5 per cent of Israeli citizens at the expense of the others living in the Negev, Upper Galilee and other places in the state,” said the rights group. What’s more, it added, Netanyahu’s speech about annexing settlements in the occupied West Bank suggests that he is trying to gain votes and thus avoid going to prison on corruption charges.

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