Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the construction of over 40 new settler units in the occupied West Bank, despite international calls to halt such illegal activities.
On Saturday, Netanyahu reopened a tender contract for the construction of 42 units in the Kiryat Arba settlement located in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron).
The contract had been halted for a year and a half after contractors refrained from taking part in it.
On Friday, Netanyahu rejected a report by the Middle East Quartet -- which is mediating the so-called peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- that directly called on the Tel Aviv regime to put an end to its settlement expansion activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and denying Palestinian development,” read the report issued by the Quartet – the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
Netanyahu (seen below) has dismissed the report, saying that it “perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace.”
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
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 their future independent state, with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.