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The New Arab

Israel plans for 1,285 illegal settlement units

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 January, 2018

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Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he will present for approval a plan to build 1,285 housing units this year in illegal West Bank settlements.

Israel's defence minister said he will present a plan to build 1,285 housing units in West Bank settlements this year, illegal outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Avigdor Lieberman announced the plans, which are to be approved, on Tuesday.

"The defence minister will on Wednesday present for approval by the Higher Planning Council an immediate construction plan for 2018 of 1,285 housing units in Judea and Samaria," his ministry said, using the biblical names Israeli authorities use for the West Bank.

Lieberman would also seek to move forward projects for 2,500 additional housing units in more than 20 locations, it said.

The Higher Planning Council meets several times a year to examine and approve settlement construction projects.

Israel's settlement project in the occupied territories or areas it has annexed since 1967, is illegal under international law and seen by the international community as a major obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

According to Peace Now, an Israeli NGO that campaigns against the settlements, 6,742 housing projects were approved in the settlements last year, the highest figure since 2013. 

In 2016, 2,629 housing units were approved.

In December, the central committee of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party unanimously adopted a resolution urging its own elected officials "to allow free construction and the application of (Israeli) legislation to all liberated Jewish settlement areas" in the territory.

If such a text were adopted by the government, it would definitively end the "two-state solution" by making a Palestinian state impossible.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticised the Likud resolution and the United States' refusal to condemn Israeli "crimes against the Palestinian people".

Abbas said the vote would not have taken place without "total support" from Washington.

About 400,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel for 50 years. 

A further 200,000 live in east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in a move never recognised by the international community.

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