Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in existing settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. US State department: "latest step... in a systematic process of land seizures”. Peace Now: Settlement construction is endangering both the possibility for peace; it will not prevent the next victims but rather strengthen the extremists on both sides.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The US, Ngos and international advocacy groups like Peace Now has criticised Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in existing settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. State department spokesman John Kirby called the plans the "latest step... in a systematic process of land seizures”.
The Middle East Quartet on the peace process also recently criticised Israel's settlement project. In a report published days ago the Quartet -the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - criticised Israel for building settlements, denying Palestinian development and designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and asked for urgent steps to halt the expansion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorised the plans on Tuesday, Israeli officials say.
Citing an Israeli official, international news agencies report that the plans include 560 new homes in Maale Adumim, just outside Jerusalem, as well as nearly 200 in the city itself. The plan also calls for more than 600 new homes in an Arab neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, AP says.
Mr Kirby said: "If true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution."
The plans were also sharply criticised by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
"This raises legitimate questions about Israel's long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank," Mr Ban's spokesman said in a statement.
Settlement construction is endangering both the possibility for peace and two states and the security of Israeli citizens, Peace Now said in a note. New housing units in the settlements will not prevent the next victims but rather strengthen the extremists on both sides. The real answer to terror is ending the occupation and reaching a negotiated agreement. Meanwhile, Israeli citizens will continue to pay the price of the extreme right wing government's policies.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud condemned the Israeli government’s approval of 800 new settlement housing units, adding that it was part of a recent escalation in Israeli incitement and threats in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Al-Mahmoud called on the international community to urgently take action against Israeli escalations.
About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law. Israel disputes this and continues an expansionist settlement policy.
Peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2014, leading to a resurgence in violence in the region.