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Ashrawi: Israeli settlement expansion 'mockery of the global justice system'

June 9, 2017 4:40 P.M. (Updated: June 10, 2017 1:49 P.M.)
A bulldozer is seen at a new construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in occupied East Jerusalem on March 19, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi denounced on Thursday recent Israeli moves pushing forward the construction of at least 2,500 housing units in illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Civil Administration promoted plans for the construction of at least 1,500 settlement housing units, including 102 housing units in Amichai, Israel’s first new official settlement in more than two decades. The plans are the first step in advancing approximately 2,500 new Israeli housing units in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The plans also came as Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction Yoav Galant advocated for 67,000 additional illegal settlement housing units to be built across the West Bank.

“Israel is making a mockery of the international community and the global justice system,” Ashrawi said of the move.

“Clearly, Israel’s creeping annexation of Palestine is escalating because of the international community’s inability to translate its verbal statements and condemnations into serious and concrete actions to bring Israel to account,” Ashrawi said, adding to growing condemnation of the international community’s inaction in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ashrawi also took a stab at the United States, whose ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, she accused of being “fully engaged in browbeating the international community and ensuring that Israel gets a free pass.”

Ashrawi’s statements came as Israeli news outlet the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised settlement leaders that construction would not be limited to already existing settlement blocs, in a meeting after settlers expressed disappointment over what they deemed to be insufficient plans for settlement expansion.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Mustafa, an economic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, denied on Thursday reports that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was no longer calling for a stop to settlement construction as a prerequisite for a two-state solution, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

“The Palestinian position on settlements is firm and has not changed,” Wafa quoted Mustafa as saying. “Stopping and freezing them is a necessity and a prelude to their dismantling and removing them from the territory of the State of Palestine in any final agreement."

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 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, although Israeli settler outposts -- unapproved by the Israeli government -- are even considered illegal under Israeli law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which would pave the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.

Marking 50 years since Israel first annexed East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, NGO Amnesty International announced on Wednesday that it was launching a campaign to convince the international community to implement a full boycott of illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.
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