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Israel accelerates settlement construction in West Bank: Peace Now

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view shows buildings under construction in the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on March 7, 2016. (© AFP)

Israeli rights group Peace Now says the Tel Aviv regime has accelerated construction of illegal settlements across West Bank in defiance of international calls.

Israeli authorities approved plans to build 499 new units in the West Bank settlements in the first three months of the current year compared with 115 the previous year, it said.

They rubber-stamped 175 units in the first quarter of 2016, compared with only 79 illegal units that were retroactively authorized in the first three months of last year.

Last year, Israel gave the go-ahead to 1,044 settler units in the occupied West Bank, the non-governmental organization said, citing data from the High Planning Council for Judea and Samaria.

Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now’s settlement watch program, said the news revealed that “quietly and behind the scenes, West Bank construction is being promoted, including in isolated settlements.”

A general view shows buildings under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on March 7, 2016. (© AFP)

Late on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed the “urgent” need for a UN resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement expansion activities.

“The Security Council is a very important subject because it has now become urgent due to settlement activities and because Israel has not stopped these activities,” Abbas said.

The top Palestinian politician said he hopes Washington would change its approach at the Security Council, and support resolutions that criticize Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied lands than to veto them.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.

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