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Several nations, international bodies denounce Israel’s plans to expand settlements in West Bank

Several nations and international bodies have expressed deep concerns over Israel’s Sunday announcement of plans to approve the building of over 1,355 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

A statement by the the Egyptian Foreign Ministry denounced Israel’s announcement of settlement expansion and called on the occupation state to stop unilateral acts that can harm the establishment of the Palestinian state and achieve peace.

It said that it is following with great concern the expansion of the settlements, which would harm the geographic contiguity of the Palestinian territories, gradually eliminate the two-state solution and the future of the Palestinian state.

France also denounced the Israeli announcement, calling ‘Israel’ to “halt any unilateral step that undermines the two-state solution, a solution based on agreed upon international parameters and that is the only one that has the ability to lead a just and sustainable peace in the region,” the French foreign ministry said.

Jordanian Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Haitham Abu al-Fool also slammed such a plan as a violation of international law and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

He stressed that “the Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, including settlement construction or expansion or confiscation of property or the displacement of Palestinians, is an illegal policy that undermines efforts to establish calm and the chances of a two-state solution that would bring about a comprehensive and just peace.”

The US also expressed serious concerns over the announcement,

“We are concerned about the announcement of a meeting next week to advance settlement units deep in the West Bank, and believe it is critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tension and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“This certainly includes settlement activity, as well as retroactive legalization of settlement outposts.”

The Arab League also denounced the Israeli plans, saying the new Israeli settlement crime announced by the occupation authorities yesterday comes as part of the continuous and escalating Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, especially in the context of continuing settlement plans.

The Pan-Arab organization also said these plans aim at Judaizing the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, to end and bury any hope or possibility for the two-state solution that expresses the choice and will of the international community and embodies the resolutions of international legitimacy.

The European Union spokesperson also condemned Israel’s announcement, saying “settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the Two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties.”

“The European Union has consistently made clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides,” said the EU spokesperson, calling the occupation government “to halt settlement construction and to not proceed with the announced tenders.”

The UN has also slammed such an announcement, saying it is “deeply concerned by continued Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” its Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said while reiterating that “all settlements are illegal under international law, remain a substantial obstacle to peace, and must cease immediately.”

On Sunday, Israel’s so-called Ministry of Housing published 13 new tenders for the construction of 1,355 housing units in 7 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and another tender for the construction of an additional 83 units in the illegal settlement of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem.

These tenders are in addition to about 3,000 housing units in the illegal settlements that will be promoted this coming Wednesday, according to the Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now, which said the publication of a tender means that the government wants to start construction.

92% of the housing units in the tenders published yesterday are in settlements deep in the occupied West Bank that ‘Israel’ will have to evacuate under a permanent agreement, Peace Now said.

There are nearly 700,000 Israeli settlers living in 256 illegal settlements and outposts scattered across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

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