Friday, March 23, 2018
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More than 1,000 settlement homes approved in West Bank

Palestinian foreign minister blames US for giving green light to Israel to do 'whatever it wants with Palestinian land'.


Israel has approved the construction of more than 1,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, the Peace Now NGO has reported. 

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki criticised the plan, blaming the United States for "giving the green light" to Israel to do "whatever it wants with Palestinian land".

Speaking to the Voice of Palestine Radio, Maliki said that the new settlement units was "one outcome of US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital."

The Israeli Peace Now organisation, which is opposed to settlements, said the homes would be constructed in 20 settlements.

Earlier, the group announced that 6,742 construction units were approved in the settlements in 2017, the highest since 2013. In 2016, the number was 2,629 units.

Settlements are illegal under international law, and are considered major stumbling blocks to the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, which have been stalled since April 2014.

To date, there are 600,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"The defence minister will on Wednesday present for approval by the Higher Planning Council an immediate construction plan for 2018 of 1,285 housing units in Judea and Samaria," Israel's defence ministry said in a statement, referring to the West Bank, earlier this week.

Avigdor Lieberman, the defence minister, said he will seek the approval of Israeli authorities on building a further 2,500 units in 20 different locations.

The Higher Planning Council meets several times a year to study and approve settlement construction projects.

Last June, Lieberman said that plans in 2017 had been advanced for 8,345 homes in the occupied West Bank, including 3,066 slated for "immediate construction".

On Tuesday, an Israeli settler residing in the Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Gilad, near Nablus, was shot in a drive-by shooting.

The settler, a 35-year-old rabbi, later died in hospital in Tel Aviv. The Israeli army declared the area southwest of Nablus a military zone and carried out raids in the Palestinian villages of Tell and Sarra, in search of suspects.

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