In comparison to the previous year, 2021 experienced an even higher rate of settlement units’ advancements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (22,030), enforcing the trend of a continuously increasing settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian territories, according to a new report by the Office of the European Union Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and UNRWA.
“Adding to the exponentially high figures in 2021 were particularly the advancement of settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem, which more than doubled compared to the previous year, from 6,288 housing units to 14,894,” said the report on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the period from January to December 2021.
“This trend of deepening settlement projects through plans and tenders occurred despite the announcement by the new Israeli government, which started its tenure on 13 June 2021, that it would be committed to a status quo when it comes to occupation-related matters,” it said.
“The advancement, in 2021, in particular of three settlements – E1, Atarot and Lower Aqueduct – is a serious cause of concern. The settlements, if constructed, would disconnect East Jerusalemites from major West Bank urban areas, such as Hebron and Ramallah, and would thus have serious implications on Palestinian urban continuity and pose a serious threat to a viable two-state solution,” said a summary of the EU report.
Other trends and developments contributing to settlement expansion in the reporting period included advancements of infrastructure and road projects as well as the establishment of new illegal so-called outpost farms. The rise in settlement expansion plans by the Israeli authorities was also accompanied by a worrisome trend of rising settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“As outlined in several statements by the EEAS Spokesperson on new settlements announcements in 2021, the EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. It remains the EU’s firm position that settlements are illegal under international law. Israel’s decision to advance plans for the approval and construction of almost new settlement units in 2021, i.a. for Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, further undermines the prospects of a viable two-state solution,” stressed the EU.