Israel advances plans for illegal settlement projects

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 07.08.2019 00:28
Updated 07.08.2019 13:43
A picture taken on Aug. 6, 2019 shows the israeli settlement of Ibei Hanahal near the palestinian village of Kissan south the Israel-occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AFP Photo)
A picture taken on Aug. 6, 2019 shows the israeli settlement of Ibei Hanahal near the palestinian village of Kissan south the Israel-occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AFP Photo)

Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,300 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a surge of such approvals since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) said yesterday.

A defense ministry planning committee issued the approvals while meeting over the past couple of days, the NGO Peace Now said in a statement. The 2,304 housing units are at various stages in the approval process.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday strongly condemning Israel's "illegitimate policy" of approving construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Last week, Israel's security cabinet gave a rare approval to 700 Palestinian homes in the part of the West Bank under the country's full control while also approving 6,000 homes for settlers. Details of those plans were not publicly released, and some of the 6,000 settler homes may be included in this week's committee approvals, said Peace Now's Hagit Ofran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged before April elections to annex settlements in the West Bank, a move sought by the country's far-right. Annexing settlements on a large scale in the West Bank could prove to be a death knell for the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous state. Roughly 650,000 Jewish settlers currently live on more than 100 settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory, and Palestinians are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.

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