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Israel tells US of plan to build more illegal settlement units

June 13, 2023 at 8:47 am

Palestinians stage a protest against the illegal construction of Jewish settlement and separation wall at Qalandiya district in Ramallah, West Bank on January 20, 2023 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli government told the administration of US President Joe Biden last week that it intends to announce later this month plans to build thousands of illegal settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank, Walla has reported. All of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law.

Nevertheless, the planning committee of the Israeli Civil Administration in the occupied West Bank was scheduled to meet yesterday to discuss the E1 plan, which aims to establish thousands of settlement units to link the Ma’ale Adumim settlement with Jerusalem and isolate the city from its Palestinian hinterland and splitting the West Bank in two. By doing so, the Zionist state will effectively eliminate any prospects of the “two-state solution” ever becoming a reality.

The Israeli news website quoted high-level American officials as saying that they are delighted with the Israeli decision to postpone the discussion of the E1 plan. However, the same officials mentioned that this is just one part of the Israeli announcement, noting that the second part is that the far-right coalition government plans to announce thousands of new residential units in several settlements across the occupied West Bank. While one informed source said that that Israel intends to build no less than 4,000 residential units in the settlements, another said that the Higher Planning Council in the Civil Administration — which is controlled by the military — is expected to meet before the end of June to approve the plans.

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According to Walla, citing anonymous Israeli and American officials, the Biden administration is trying to put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to proceed with the new settlement construction plans, or at least cut them to the bare minimum and exclude building in isolated settlements.

Extreme far-right Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich felt the need to defend himself for postponing discussions on the E1 plan. “Certainly, there will be good news for settlements in Judea and Samaria [the Zionist name for the occupied West Bank],” he told journalists in the Knesset. “This government is committed to that.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Israeli move. It said on Monday that it views with great seriousness the reports in the Israeli media about the Israeli government’s communication of these plans to the US administration. The ministry stated that this step represents “a serious test for the US administration and its position on the two-state solution.” It called for a firm US stance to prevent the implementation of these plans.

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The E1 plan was submitted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his 2020 election campaign, and the committee began hearing complaints about the programme in October 2021. The objection stage is the final step in a series of procedures before publishing construction tenders. It is worth noting that the subcommittee responsible for objections has held two sessions. However, the third and final session has been postponed twice due to US pressure.