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Israel PM boasts of record settlement construction during his term

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and the Mayor of Beitar Illit settlement Meir Rubinstein attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a new neighborhood in the Illit settlement, in Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank, August 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has flaunted a record rate of settlement expansion on the occupied Palestinian land during his term.

“No other government has done as much for settlement in the land of Israel as the government which I lead,” he said of the occupied territories belonging to Palestinians.

He made the comments while breaking the ground on a project to build more than 1,000 new settler units within the sprawling Beitar Illit settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The settlement already accommodates some 50,000 Israeli settlers.

Ultraorthodox Israelis walk at the site of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new neighborhood in the Beitar Illit settlement, in Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank, August 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israel is advancing the so-called “Greater Jerusalem Bill,” which seeks to expand the area under Tel Aviv’s municipal authority by annexing five settlements, including Beitar Illit.

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Israel occupied the entire West Bank during full-frontal military operations in 1967. It later annexed the territories. Neither move has ever been recognized by the international community.

Upon annexation, it began propping up the structures, deemed as illegal by the international community due to their construction on occupied territory.

More than 600,000 Israelis now live in the settlements.

Israel’s settlement activities have the steadfast support of the United States, which keeps vetoing United Nations resolutions in their condemnation.

Last December, however, the UN Security Council declared all such settlements illegal after outgoing US President Barack Obama decided not to veto the relevant resolution in a surprise move.

Netanyahu, whose right-wing coalition government relies heavily on the support of heavy-weight settlement advocates, has, though, ignored the resolution and even stepped up the construction activities thanks to Washington’s silence under Obama’s successor Donald Trump.

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