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'Settlement activity banned' in Israel-China construction deal

China is opposed to the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 April, 2017

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Israel cites Chinese concerns over worker safety as reason for workers being barred from working on settlement activity in newly-signed construction deal between Israel and China.

A construction deal that will see Chinese construction workers travel to Israel to work on projects will reportedly bar the workers from building in West Bank settlements, at Beijing's insistence.

The deal, which was signed on Sunday, will see 6,000 Chinese workers travel to Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Sunday that the deal will see the workers operate in areas "agreed upon by both sides that take into consideration their safety and well-being."

While safety concerns have been cited as the main reason for the restriction, earlier this year a Chinese government spokesman made it clear that it was because of China's stance on Palestinian land seized by Israel.

"China's position on the Palestine-Israel issue is consistent, clear and unchanged" said spokesman Geng Shuang earlier this year. "We oppose building Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem and West Bank. The Resolution 2334 recently adopted at the Security Council also has clear stipulations on this."

The deal was delayed for a year and a half due to this issue, with negotiators having disagreed last summer over making a distinction between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank.

Israel has continued building settlements on occupied Palestinian land, despite widespread condemnation and the majority of the international community being against it.

Israel has ignored UN Security Council calls to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and has instead authorised "a high rate" of settlement expansions in violation of international law.

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