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Israel approves 2,000 new settler homes in occupied West Bank

January 7, 2020 at 1:36 pm

View of a Jewish settlement near Nablus in the West Bank on 2 April 2019 [Shadi Jarar’ah/Apaimages]

Israel has approved the construction of 1,936 housing units in the occupied West Bank, according to anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now.

The green light was given on Sunday and Monday, Peace Now said, adding that 89 per cent of the new units will be built in “settlements that Israel may have to evacuate under a future peace agreement with the Palestinians”.

Illegal settlement building has vastly increased under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ally US President Donald Trump, the watchdog added.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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The Palestinians want these territories — along with the Gaza Strip — for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

“Despite lacking a clear mandate, for this caretaker government it’s business as usual – continue the massive promotion of harmful and unnecessary construction in occupied territory and in places that Israel will have to evacuate,” Peace Now said in a statement.

Netanyahu continues to sabotage the prospects of peace, dragging Israel into an anti-democratic one-state reality resembling apartheid.

According to Peace Now, 1,150 of the units were approved for “deposit” or phase one of the planning process.

A total of 786 units received final endorsement, including 258 that are to be built in Haresha, an “illegal outpost” west of the city of Ramallah on the West Bank, the watchdog said.

Yesha Council, an umbrella organisation of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank celebrated the approvals stating: “To our delight, construction in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley is commonplace and we are pleased to see that every few months plans are advanced by the High Planning Subcommittee,” in reference to the occupied West Bank.

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Calling out Peace Now, the Yesha Council added that “it is time for extremist left-wing organisations to accept that the US has also declared that settlement… does not contravene international law and that applying Israeli sovereignty [in those areas] is a matter consensus in the State of Israel.”

Late last year, the Trump administration abandoned the US’ four-decade old position that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were “inconsistent with international law”.

The European Union, UN and others have stressed, however, that they continue to consider settlements illegal.

Moreover, the UN published data showing a 45 per cent increase in the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian structures in the West Bank during 2019, compared to 2018.