Record rise in illegal Israeli settlement construction
The number of new housing units under construction in the illegal Jewish settlements on the Israel occupied West Bank rose last year by 40 percent, watchdog Peace Now said Monday.
The Israeli group said the construction of 3,100 "residential units" began last year in West Bank settlements, while 4,485 tenders for construction there and in east Jerusalem settlement districts were launched in 2014 - "a record high for at least a decade".
Of the 3,100 units, 287 were in so-called wildcat settlements without official authorisation from Israeli authorities, Peace Now said.
The international community considers all settlements on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.
|Palestinians denounced the plan for the 450 new homes as a 'war crime'|
Peace Now said the monthly average for new homes in settlements was 460 during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's third government which took office on 18 March 2013.
It said that over the same period 66 construction projects were launched to build 10,113 homes in 41 settlements.
"All these figures prove that Binyamin Netanyahu is doing everything to increase faits accomplis on the ground and make a two-state solution impossible," Peace Now's Hagit Ofran said.
"We hope Israeli voters will take this essential fact into account" when they go back to the polls on 17 March, she added.
Last month, Israel also announced plans to build 450 new settler homes in the West Bank, drawing the ire of Washington which denounced this as "illegitimate and counterproductive" to achieving peace with the Palestinians.
The announcement, coming just weeks before early elections, further strained relations between the United States Israel.
Building settlements is illegal under international law and is opposed by the international community as an obstacle to an eventual peace deal with the Palestinians.
The Palestinians denounced the plan for the 450 new homes as a "war crime".