A nongovernmental organization monitoring Israel’s settlement construction activities, Peace Now, says Israel has approved the construction of 2,342 new settler units in the occupied West Bank.
The NGO said in a statement on Thursday that the decision was taken on October 10 and that 59 percent of the new settler units will be erected in settlements that Israel was supposed to evacuate under a deal with the Palestinians.
According to Peace Now, plans for the construction of 8,337 settler units in the illegal Israeli settlements were approved at the beginning of the year, adding that the new development represents an increase of close to 50 percent compared with 2018 when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved.
“This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since [US] President [Donald] Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them,” said the NGO.
Peace Now further stated that settlement construction has increased under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently fighting for his political survival after failing to form a coalition administration following September elections.
“Netanyahu continues to sabotage the possibility of a political agreement with the Palestinians by promoting more settlement construction in the West Bank, including in places where Israel may have to evacuate as part of a future agreement,” Peace Now said.
According to the NGO’s statement, 182 new settlements out of the planned 2,342 new units are due to be built in Mevoot Yericho settlement, which is a former Israeli outpost that Netanyahu administration legalized before the September polls.
“The next government must put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict…,” Peace Now added.
Israel to grab more Palestinian land in West Bank
Israeli authorities are also planning to confiscate hundreds of acres of private Palestinian land in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, as the Tel Aviv regime goes ahead with land expropriation and settlement construction policies in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions.
Nazzal Younis, head of the Masafer Yatta village council, told Palestine’s official WAFA news agency on Thursday that Israeli officials have distributed notices among local residents, notifying them of a military decision to seize 3,000 dunams (741.31 acres) of Palestinian-owned land, extending from Khirbat Menzel village to Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin village, located five kilometers southeast of Jerusalem.
Abdul Hadi Hantash, a Palestinian expert on settlement issues, pointed to the existence of an old Israeli military order, issued back in 1996, to seize around 250,000 dunams (61776.34 acres) of Palestinian land, stretching from the southern countryside of the city of Ariha to the town of ad-Dhahiriyah, situated 23 kilometers southwest of the city of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank, for a settlement expansion project known as Alon.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem”
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories