Israel to build 164 illegal settler homes in occupied Bethlehem
According to the Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem (CAWSB), the High Planning Committee of the Israeli Civil Administration approved the construction of 164 housing units in Neve Daniel settlement in southern Bethlehem.
Hassan Bureijia, head of the, CAWSB, said in a statement on Sunday that Israel's illegal endeavour will create a new neighbourhood built on Palestinian-owned land seized in the town of Khader, located five kilometres west of Bethlehem, and Nahalin village.
Settlements are seen as a barrier to peace, a violation of Palestinian sovereignty, and considered illegal under international law.
Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.
The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three: Area A, Area B and Area C.
Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B's administration is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.
Israel's plans to annex the West Bank have been denounced as an illegal violation of international law by world leaders as well as UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet.
Israel was originally supposed to begin annexing the occupied West Bank on 1 July, but the plan had been delayed - allegedly because the map to annex was not ready on time.
On the set day of the annexation, a confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the annexation had not yet begun.
Speaking on Israel's Army Radio station, cabinet minister Ofir Akunis confirmed that the annexation process would not begin on Wednesday, saying that officials were still working out final details with their American counterparts.
He said that he expected the annexation to take place later in July.
"Coordination with the American administration is not something that can be dismissed," he said.