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Occupation regime accelerates settlement expansion in West Bank

26 December 2017 15:28


Israel has accelerated the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank despite international condemnation.

Ma’an news agency reported the acceleration of construction work to the west, south and east of the Ahia settlement in the Palestinian village of Jalud.

According to the report, 15 settlement housing units will be built in the area.

As part of the plan, new roads are constructed around Ahia and more agricultural lands are bulldozed to the east of Ahia to pave the way for the construction of yet more settlement units.

The report said the construction work advances in the absence of the media and thus away from the public eye.

Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of monitoring Israeli settlement policy in the northern part of the West Bank, said the new settlement expansion in Ahia was accompanied by the bulldozing of lands and the construction of infrastructure in the new settlement of Amihai, which lies one kilometer to the southwest of Ahia.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories has been a major impediment to peace.

Israel also plans to build 300,000 housing units in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

A picture taken on November 8, 2017 shows a general view of construction work in Gilo, an Israeli settlement in the mainly Palestinian, eastern sector of Jerusalem al-Quds. (By AFP)

The new Israeli settlement construction plan was condemned by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, which held US President Donald Trump responsible for “Israeli colonial arrogance.”

“The ministry affirms that this Israeli colonial arrogance would not have happened without US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem [al-Quds] as Israel’s capital,” the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page on Sunday.

“Trump’s administration must bear the responsibility for new crimes that Israel… imposes on our people.”

The ministry also called on the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to confront the move.

Separately, Israel’s Minister of Housing and Construction Yoav Galant announced the launching of a campaign to promote the building of the new settlement units.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, the plan was part of the so-called “Greater Jerusalem Bill,” which aims to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank to the Israeli-defined boundaries of the city of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Galant’s remarks come three weeks after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

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