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Israel to build 800 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank

A general view of Halamish Jewish settlement after United States announced Israeli settlements in West Bank don’t violate international law, in Ramallah, West Bank on 20 November 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
A general view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank on 20 November 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israel plans to approve the construction of 800 settlement units across the occupied West Bank, the Kan public broadcaster reported today.

According to the report, the Israeli Defence Ministry panel is set to green-light the construction at a meeting next week, which includes 500 houses in the West Bank settlements of Itamar, Beit El, Shavei Shomron, Oranit and Givat Ze'ev.

It also includes more than 100 units in the settlement of Tal Menashe, north of the West Bank.

"We're here to stay. We're continuing to build the Land of Israel!" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook.

The order to advance the illegal constructions comes ten days before US President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Israeli opposition politician Yair Lapid described the settlement plans as "irresponsible" and warned they would create new divisions with Biden's administration, which takes office on 20 January.

READ: Israel uproots thousands of trees from Palestinian lands in West Bank

He wrote on Twitter: "The Biden administration has not yet taken office, and the government is already leading us into an unnecessary confrontation."

"The national interest must also be maintained during elections."

Last year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first US diplomat to visit a West Bank settlement, which are considered illegal by international law.

He also announced that goods from illegal settlements would be labelled "Made in Israel" in the US, in a change from protocol which called for them to be labelled as settlement goods.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.

Currently, more than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements in the territory, home to more than 2.8 million Palestinians.

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