Israel approves 1,100 new West Bank settlement homes: NGO

Israel approves 1,100 new West Bank settlement homes: NGO
More than 1,100 new settlement homes have been approved by Israeli authorities, with last year's total holding a record high since 2013.
2 min read
11 January, 2018
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law [AFP]
More than 1,100 new settlement homes have been approved by the Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of similar moves in recent months, Peace Now NGO said.

The settlement watchdog said on Thursday that approvals were given on Wednesday by a defence ministry committee  authorised to oversee settlement construction.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that some 352 homes received final approval, while others are at an earlier stage in the process.

A total of 1,122 housing units were advanced, including seven already existing homes given retroactive approval.

The bulk of the approvals are for settlements deep in the West Bank, said Ofran, which would need to be evacuated by Israel as part of any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It's a part of the general trend that the government is doing, which is to build all over the West Bank, even more in places that Israel would need to evict, and in this way to torpedo the possibility for a two-state solution," she said.

On Tuesday, an Israeli settler was shot dead near an illegal settlement near Nablus, leading to renewed calls for further settlement building.

At least 6,742 housing projects were approved in settlements last year, the highest figure since 2013.   

In December, the central committee of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party unanimously adopted a resolution urging its own elected officials "to allow free construction and the application of (Israeli) legislation to all liberated Jewish settlement areas" in the territory.

If such a text were adopted by the government, it would definitively end the "two-state solution" by making a Palestinian state impossible.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticised the Likud resolution and the United States' refusal to condemn Israeli "crimes against the Palestinian people".

Abbas said the vote would not have taken place without "total support" from Washington.

Israel's settlement project in the occupied territories is illegal under international law and seen by the international community as a major obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

About 400,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel for 50 years. 

A further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in a move never recognised by the international community.