French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak to reporters ahead of their meeting in Berlin, Germany, November 18, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
The European Union and France lashed out Thursday at Israel for its advancement and approval this week of 2,191 new settler homes in the West Bank.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law. It undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” the EU said.
Some 61% of those units are slated to be built in isolated settlements, located beyond the route of the security barrier.
The EU, however, considers all Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines to be illegal, and does not distinguish between isolated settlements and the blocs.
The Land Authority published tenders for 641 settler homes on Thursday, bringing the total of tenders for the year to 3,808, according to the Left-wing group Peace Now.
That’s a 20% increase over last year’s total of 3,154.
The combined number of tenders published over the last two years, since US President Donald Trump came into office totals 6,962. It’s almost as many as the 6,806 tenders published from 2008 to 2016.
The number of tenders published in 2018 was higher than any single year since before 2002, according to Peace Now data.
The French Foreign Ministry condemned “Israel’s decision to allow the expansion of settler houses in the West Bank,” the spokesperson wrote.
It added that such activity did not correspond with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 which forbids settlement building.
“The settlements endanger the two-state solution, which is the only solution that would allow for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the French Foreign Ministry said.
“We call on Israeli authorities to reconsider this decision,” the letter concluded.
Settlers have complained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has not done enough to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and have urged him to increase building activity.
One day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that early elections would be held on April 9, the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria held back-to-back meetings at the Civil Administration’s headquarters in the West Bank to authorize building.
While it has yet to issue a formal tally, Peace Now, which attended the meetings, compiled a list of the projects. It authorized 1,159 housing units and advanced plans for 1,032 others, bringing the total of such plans for the year to 5,618.
Approvals also included homes in the following settlements: 212 in Har Bracha, 152 in Shavei Shomron, 135 in Tene Omari, 129 in Karmei Tzur, 121 in Yitzhar, and 120 in Halamish (Neve Tzuf), according to Peace Now.
The council also authorized the outpost of Ibei Hanahal and approve the construction of 98 homes there.
The small community, which was established in 1999, is now a legal neighborhood of the Ma’ale Amos settlement in the Gush Etzion region.
In addition, the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria established three industrial zones in the West Bank.
Israel holds that all such construction is permissible, with right-wing politicians believing that there is no difference between building in the West Bank or inside sovereign Israel.
Nabil Abu Rudeinah, the spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that all settlements would eventually be dismantled.
“Settlements will be dismantled from all Palestinian territories the same way [Israeli] settlements in Gaza were dismantled,” he said according the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
“Israel’s insistence on continuing its settlement policy confirms that the Israeli government completely ignores the will of the international community, and blatantly disregards the resolutions of international legitimacy, which requires immediate international intervention for our people.”
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