Israel announced it is building nearly 1,800 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem. It is the largest new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem in over a decade. The new plan includes the expulsion of five Palestinian families and two new buildings in the heart of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the Middle East Monitor reported.
The Israeli NGO Peace Now condemned the latest Israeli government move, accusing it of further destroying the chances of a two-state solution.
"The government is brutally attempting to destroy the possibility of the two-state solution, and this time it is by establishing a new settlement at the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem and promoting nearly 1,800 housing units beyond the Green Line. The eviction of five Palestinian families, which are protected tenants, in order to establish a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah shows that nothing will get in the way of settler groups and a pro-settler government from preventing a future compromise in Jerusalem," the Israeli NGO said on Twitter.
Last month, Israel began work on the first new settlement in the West Bank in 25 years to house rightwing extremist settlers expelled from the illegal outpost of Amona in February. Building settler homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank soared 70 percent in 2017 to March, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed today. Since April 2016, work began on 2,758 dwellings, compared to 1,619 during the previous 12 months.
Israel advanced plans for a further 1,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the second such announcement in a week. The announcement came after the United Nations' latest call on Israel to pull out of territories captured in the 1967 war.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, which is seen as a major obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestinians. They live alongside some 3 million Palestinians.
After the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and deems the entire city its "indivisible and eternal capital," a status not recognized internationally. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and it is now ruled by Hamas.
The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote. Palestinians accuse Israel of waging an aggressive campaign to "Judaize" the historic city with the aim of effacing its Arab and Islamic identity and driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.