Israel approves new illegal settlement in East Jerusalem amid Gaza war
Israel has approved the building of a major new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem in violation of international law, as it faces accusations of genocide over its indiscriminate war on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved a plan to build a "new Jewish neighbourhood that will be partly located in East Jerusalem", the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.
The plans would see the construction of more than 1,700 new homes for Israeli settlers. There are already around 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967.
"If it weren't for the war (on Gaza), there would be a lot of noise. It's a highly problematic project for the continuity of a Palestinian state between the southern West Bank and east Jerusalem," said Hagit Ofran from the Israeli NGO Peace Now.
'Violation of international law'
The move was condemned by regional states, with Turkey saying that settlements damage efforts to achieve lasting peace in the region.
“It is completely unacceptable that Israel approved a plan to build approximately 1,800 settlements on 186 acres of land in East Jerusalem," Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
It said that the expansion "seriously undermines the prerequisite principles for permanent peace" and accused Israel of "further violating international law".
Egypt also slammed the move as a blatant violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions, urging Israel to halt the construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land in a foreign ministry statement.
Israel has constructed hundreds of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, settler attacks against Palestinians have more than doubled, according to the UN.
In a rare punitive move against Israel, the US announced on Tuesday it will impose travel bans on extremist settlers implicated in recent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.
The secretary of state, Antony Blinken, announced the decision after warning Israel last week that Joe Biden’s administration would be taking action over the attacks. Blinken did not announce individual visa bans, but officials said those would be coming this week and could affect dozens of settlers and their families.
"We have underscored to the Israeli government the need to do more to hold accountable extremist settlers who have committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank," Blinken said in a statement.
"As President Biden has repeatedly said, those attacks are unacceptable."