As new US President Joe Biden took office yesterday, the Israeli government approved the building of 2,572 new settlement units in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, an Israeli NGO has revealed.
"Our out-of-touch government leadership continues to press on with its mad scramble to promote as much settlement activity as possible until the last minutes before the change of the administration in Washington," said Peace Now.
According to the watchdog, 2,112 of the new housing units are planned for illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank, with 460 to be built in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The group said that this comes just days after similar approval for 780 settlement units in the West Bank.
During 2020 alone, said the NGO, Israel approved or advanced construction of over 12,000 settlement homes, the most in a single year since it started monitoring settlements in 2012.
Israeli media have reported that the Israeli government wanted to seize the opportunity of the last few hours of Donald Trump's presidency to approve and build as many settlement housing units as possible, taking advantage of the fact that he has never criticised this illegal activity.
The Israeli government is apparently concerned that it might not be able to continue to build settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories during Biden's presidency. His former boss, Barak Obama, regarded settlements as an obstacle for peace during his presidency, which ended in 2016. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.