United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said on Thursday that Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank is illegal and a major obstacle to peace.
He added, according to the PNN : “In the aftermath of the decision to advance over 1,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank, I reiterate that Israeli settlement construction is illegal under international law and is one of the major obstacles to peace,”
Mladenov also said in a statement. “I urge the Israeli authorities to cease and reverse such actions.”
The UN officials said settlement-related activities “undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.
They entrench a one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.”
Meanwhile, Spain, Britain and France have all strongly condemned Israel’s approval of the construction of 1,100 new Jewish settler units across the West Bank, according to WAFA.
“The government calls on the Israeli authorities to put an end to the construction of settlements as it contravenes International Law and hinders the viability of the two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” said the Spanish Foreign Ministry in a press statement.
“The UK strongly condemns the advancement by the Israeli authorities of plans and tenders for settlement units across the West Bank,” said a statement by the Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt.
“We call on Israel to reconsider these proposals,” adding that “Settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the physical viability of the two-state solution,” he added.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement, on Thursday, condemning Israel’s approval of the construction of new illegal settlement units. according to Ma’an.
According to Peace Now, “over half (56.8%) of the housing units approved are to be located beyond the Geneva Initiative proposed borders, which means that Israel will most likely need to evacuate those settlements in a two-state final status agreement.”
The group added that Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week that the committee would be promoting 2,490 settlement housing units.
“His list included the plans that were promoted yesterday, tenders of which some were published today, and plans that should be published for depositing. Peace Now expects the latter plans to be pushed in the coming days,” the group said.
The French ministry condemned the plans, highlighting specifically the approval of seven structures in Nativ Haavot, a settler outpost which is partially located on privately-owned Palestinian land.
The ministry noted that these approvals go against a decision from Israel’s High Court of Justice, which had ordered the outpost’s evacuation by March 2018.
In its statement, the French ministry went on to note that Israeli settlement construction violates international law, specifically resolution 2334 of the UN Security Council.
The statement added that settlement hinder attempts for a “just and lasting peace,” impedes the two-state solution and contributes to the fueling of the tensions on the ground.
It affirmed France’s priority towards preserving the two-state solution and urged Israel to cease settlement activities.
Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.
The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.
Meanwhile, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that, in 2016, Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions since the group began recording the incidents.
At the same time, Peace Now reported that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34 percent in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction on 1,814 new settler housing units.
The new plans involve the construction of more than 200 homes in Oranit settlement and more than 50 in Petzael settlement in the Jordan Valley. Besides, Israel has approved additional housing units in the Ariel and Alfei Menashe settlements in the northern West Bank.
Israeli authorities have also reportedly approved plans for “hundreds” of additional settler units in the West Bank settlements of Kfar Adumim and Givat Zeev.