Israel has approved the construction of 1,936 illegal settlements on Sunday and Monday, according to activist group Peace Now – adding that such settlement buildings have greatly increased under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has received strong political backing from US President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu’s political reign remains in jeopardy after his recent corruption charges and failure to form a new coalition government following the April and September elections last year. He was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a set of long-running corruption cases and faces a third general election in March.
Peace Now released a statement following the supposed approval:
"Despite lacking a clear mandate, for this caretaker government it's business as usual - continue the massive promotion of harmful and unnecessary construction in occupied territory and in places that Israel will have to evacuate. Netanyahu continues to sabotage the prospects of peace, dragging Israel into an anti-democratic one-state reality resembling apartheid.”
Peace Now claims that 1,150 of the units were approved for "deposit" or phase one of the planning process and 786 units received final endorsement, including 258 to be built in Haresha – an "illegal outpost" west of the city of Ramallah on the West Bank.
Israel, settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967, but its occupation has been considered illegal under international law. Around 600,000 Israeli occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians but have lived in political segregation with heavy Israeli militarisation and hundreds of random flying checkpoints in these areas.
US President Donald Trump’s administration declared late last year that it would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied territories illegal. Although it was commended by Netanyahu, it outraged many Palestinians and members of the international community including the European Union and United Nations.
Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, last month claimed there was a premise to build a case against Israel’s settlement policies, which could constitute war crimes. She has requested the ICC to determine if she has jurisdiction to initiate a formal investigation to which Israel has strongly opposed.
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