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Israel advances 22,000 housing units in illegal settlements over three years

An aerial view of Pisgat Ze'ev, an illegal Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem and the largest residential neighbourhood in Jerusalem with a population of over 50,000 on October 04, 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf /Anadolu Agency]
Israeli settlement units in Jerusalem on 4 October 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf /Anadolu Agency]

Israeli authorities have approved or otherwise advanced plans for more than 22,000 housing units in occupied West Bank settlements over the last three years, according to a senior UN official.

As reported by AP, UN Middle East peace process envoy Nickolay Mladenov presented the figures in a periodic update to the Security Council, as mandated in a resolution adopted in December 2016.

In addition, the envoy told diplomats, in the three years since the passage of the resolution, which reaffirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, "Israel issued tenders for some 8,000 housing units".

Mladenov said the numbers "should be of serious concern to all those who continue to support the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel."

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The envoy also said Israel had taken no steps to "cease all settlement activities" and that its demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures had also continued.

In a report to the Security Council circulated yesterday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israeli settlement expansion "must cease immediately and completely".

Guterres said he regretted the Trump administration's announcement that it no longer views Israeli settlements as "inconsistent with international law".

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said two words can summarise the reality for Palestinians: "confinement" in Gaza and the West Bank and "expansion" for Israeli settlements.

He added: "The purpose of this policy is crystal clear: acquiring maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians."

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