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Israel advances plans for more than 2,300 settlement homes

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 6 August, 2019

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Israel has approved the construction of more than 2,300 homes in the occupied West Bank, which rights group see as 'designed to prevent the possibility of peace'.
Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,300 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a surge of such approvals since US President Donald Trump took office, an NGO said Tuesday.

A defence ministry planning committee issued the approvals while meeting over the past couple of days, the Peace Now NGO said in a statement. The 2,304 housing units are at various stages in the approval process.

"The approval of settlement plans is part of a disastrous government policy designed to prevent the possibility of peace and a two-state solution, and to annex part or all of the West Bank," said Peace Now, which closely monitors Israeli settlement building.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged before April elections to annex settlements in the West Bank, a move sought by the country's far-right.

Annexing settlements on a large-scale in the West Bank could prove to be a death knell for the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestine Brief: Israel gives notorious West Bank checkpoint 'Orwellian makeover' with face-recognition tech

Last week, Israel's security cabinet gave rare approval to 700 Palestinian homes in the part of the West Bank under the country's full control while also approving 6,000 homes for settlers.

Details of those plans were not publicly released, and some of the 6,000 settler homes may be included in this week's committee approvals, said Peace Now's Hagit Ofran.

The plan for Palestinians, though relatively small and far outweighed by the new settlement homes, could allow Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favour of the White House's long-awaited peace plan.

All Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank are classed as illegal under international law, particularly Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which asserts that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".

Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since a war with neighbouring Arab countries in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.
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