Israel will build 1,300 new settlements in the West Bank News of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Israel has announced plans to build more housing for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, with immediate condemnation from Palestinians, peace activists and neighboring Jordan.

The construction and housing ministry in the government of right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday that tenders had been issued for 1,355 houses in the West Bank, which had been occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The new homes add more than 2,000 homes that defense sources said in August would be approved for West Bank settlers.

Housing Minister Jiv Elkin, a member of the right-wing New Hope Party, said in a statement: “Strengthen the Jewish presence. [in the West Bank] It was essential for a Zionist outlook. “

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Shatayeh, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, called on other countries – especially the United States – to “deal” with Israel’s “aggression” in building settlements for the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will keep a sharp eye on the response of US President Joe Biden’s administration, which has said it opposes unilateral Israeli settlement construction as an obstacle to a two-state solution to the conflict.

On Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was “concerned” about the housing plan. He called on Israel and the Palestinians to “refrain from unilateral action that would escalate tensions and reduce efforts to advance a two-state solution through negotiations.”

About 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law, as Palestinians claim as part of their future state.

‘Wake up’

Jordan condemned the announcement as a “violation of international law.”

Haitham Abu al-Ful, a spokesman for Jordan’s foreign ministry, described the construction of settlements and the general “confiscation” of Palestinian land as “illegal.”

Occupy group Peace Now says Sunday’s announcement proves that Bennett’s ideologically diverse coalition, which replaced a pro-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government in June, was not a “government of change.”

“This government has clearly maintained Netanyahu’s de facto annexation policy,” Peace Now said, urging Bennett’s left-wing ruling partners, Labor and Meretz, to “wake up and demand an immediate end to wild buildings in the settlements.”

Moshe Hellinger, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, told the AFP news agency that the right-wing parties in Bennett’s eight-party alliance “must show their voters that they are defending their interests despite their alliance with the left.”

To defend the alliance, which also includes an Islamist party, all parties will need to “swallow the snake”, he said.

Bennett, a former head of a settler lobby group, opposes the Palestinian state.

He has denied holding formal peace talks with the PA during his tenure, saying he prefers to focus on economic development.

Settlement expansion

Shortly after the settlement was announced, the Defense Ministry said it was issuing an additional 9,000 permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to work in the Israeli construction industry. On top of that, the goal is to add another 6,000 permits “soon,” it said.

About 120,000 Palestinians are currently allowed to work in Israel or settlements, earning much higher wages than the equivalent work in the occupied West Bank in general.

New settlements will be built in seven settlements, according to a statement from the housing ministry.

The expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has continued since 1967 under each Israeli government.

However, construction has accelerated in the last few years under Netanyahu, with a significant increase during the US administration of former President Donald Trump, whom the Palestinians accused of being pro-Israel.

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