01/20/2021, 09.32
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As Biden is sworn in, Israel announces thousands of new settlements

Israel launches a tender for 2,500 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A move by outgoing Prime Minister Netanyahu to maintain consensus among right-wing and pro-settlement voters in the face of the Gideon Saar threat. Peace Now: a "mad rush" for settlements ahead of change in US administration.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - On the eve of the swearing in ceremony of the new US President Joe Biden, Israel has launched a tender for the construction of 2,500 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Analysts and experts explain that the move by outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is linked to the political elections of 23 March: it is an attempt to maintain consensus among right-wing voters in the face of the threat posed by pro-colonial candidate Gideon Saar, already his internal rival in Likud.

On January 17, the executive approved a project for at least 780 new homes in various areas of the occupied territories of the West Bank. According to reports from Peace Now activists, the government has just published the call for tenders for 2112 units in the West Bank and another 460 in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli anti-occupation movement speaks of a "mad rush" to promote settlement activity "before the change of administration in Washington". "By acting in this way - they underline in a note - Netanyahu means to the incoming president that he does not intend to open a new chapter in relations between the United States and Israel" or to think "seriously about how to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians ".

The settlements are communities inhabited by Israeli civilians and military and built in the territories conquered after the Six Day War of June 1967, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. In 1982, Israel withdrew from its settlements in Sinai after signing the peace agreement (1979) with Egypt and in 2005 former Prime Minister Sharon ordered the dismantling of 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip.

At the moment, the settlements - illegal under international law - are located in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. In November 2019, outgoing President Donald Trump broke decades of traditional American diplomacy, declaring them "not against international law", thus opening a new page of tension with the Palestinian front. Biden has already said he wants to go back to the pre-Trump period and wants to oppose the expansion of the settlements, while maintaining the validity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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