Israel pushes ahead with settlement expansion in Jerusalem, West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sanctioned a meeting on Monday by a government planning and construction committee to approve the construction of 660 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli media said.

Israel’s Channel 10 said the new settlement units would be constructed in Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. It added that the committee would also approve new service projects in West Bank settlements.

Netanyahu approved last week a plan for the construction of 1,060 new settlement units in Jerusalem.

The new settlement units include 660 that will be built in the northern neighborhood of Ramot Shlomo, and another 400 in Har Homa in the south, according to Israel Radio.

Last week, the UN Security Council met for urgent talks at Jordan’s and Palestine’s request after Israel announced plans on Monday to build 1,000 new settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Zionist settlements.

“Israel, the occupying power, must be demanded to cease immediately and completely its illegal settlement activities throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told the council.

Even though Israel came under strong criticism from several countries, such as Russia, France, US, Britain and Spain, there was no Security Council statement condemning the Israeli violations.

Speaking to the council, top UN official Jeffrey Feltman said the Israeli practice of moving settlers to Palestinian territories was “in violation of international law” and runs counter to a two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “alarmed” by the latest plans for new Israeli settlements which “once again raise grave doubts about Israel’s commitment to achieving durable peace,” Feltman told the council.

Besides the 1,000 new settler homes, Israel has recently approved the construction of more than 2,600 settler homes in East Jerusalem.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Source: Al-Akhbar English

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