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France condemns Israeli government approval of over 1,000 new settlement units

Jan. 12, 2018 11:39 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 12:45 P.M.)
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though not by the Israeli government ( AFP/Menahem Kahan, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Thursday condemning Israel’s approval of the construction of over 1,100 new illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

On January 10, Israel’s Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee met and approved a total of 1,122 new housing units in 20 settlements and outposts throughout occupied Palestinian territory, while on Thursday, January 11, additional tenders for 651 units were published, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.

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.

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