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Israel approved over 2,600 new settler units in 2016: Rights group

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)
The Israeli settlement of Har Homa in East Jerusalem al-Quds is seen in this photo taken on June 3, 2009. (Photo by AFP)

Israel’s illegal settlement construction increased by 40 percent during the first six months of 2016, says a rights group.

On Wednesday, anti-settlement group Peace Now said that during the year’s first half, Israel began the construction of 1,195 illegal settlement units, which marks a 40-percent increase from the last six months of 2015.   

Citing data released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the group also noted that Tel Aviv has approved plans for a further 2,623 new West Bank settlement units since the beginning of the year.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East Jerusalem al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A recent report by the Quartet on the Middle East - comprising the UN, the US, Russia and the European Union - called on the Israeli regime to halt its illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the expansion of settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expropriation of land were “steadily eroding the viability” of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

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