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The New Arab

Israeli minister to push for more illegal settlements in occupied West Bank

Israel had advanced plans for 6,742 settlement units in the West Bank in 2017 [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2018

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Senior planning officials are set to meet to push for more Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Top Israeli planning officials are due to meet next week following calls by Israeli defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A brief statement released by his office on Thursday said that a session had been convened for the Supreme Planning Council on Monday "to approve new programmes for the planning and sale of housing units in all parts of the (West Bank)."

The statement did not include further details.

The move, the statement added, was "part of the policy of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to strengthen settlement in Judea and Samaria," the Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank.

Settlements are deemed illegal under international law. Peace Now, settlement watchdog, found that Israel had advanced plans for 6,742 settlement units in the West Bank in 2017, the most since 2013.

On Sunday, the central committee of Israel's ruling Likud Party voted for a resolution urging its MPs to push to annex the occupied West Bank.

The non-binding vote by the decision-making committee of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party called on its MPs "to spread Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the occupied West Bank)".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas strongly condemned the vote and criticised the United States for its silence.

In a statement, Abbas said: "We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the US administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace.

"Rather its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine."

Such an Israeli measure could effectively end hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as there would be little area left for a Palestinian state.

A significant number of members of Netanyahu's right-wing coalition say that is precisely what they are seeking and openly oppose a Palestinian state.

Palestinian officials were dismayed by US President Donald Trump after he tore up decades of careful foreign policy last month and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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