Israelhas begun building nearly 20,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank during the past decade of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, the settlement watchdog and rights group Peace Now said yesterday.
The group's annual settlement report highlighted how the issue complicates the chances of resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It said that construction of 19,346 settler homes had started between 2009, the year that Netanyahu became prime minister for a second time, and the end of 2018. "The Israeli government is digging the country a pit to fall in," said a Peace Now statement accompanying the report.
The report was published as Netanyahu was on track to begin a fifth term after April's general election and the White House prepared to unveil a peace proposal it has been working on for months. Palestinians have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's peace efforts last year as the "slap of the century" as the U.S. recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with the cancellation of hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to the Palestinians, have prompted the Palestinians to cut off ties with the White House. The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.