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Israel OKed construction plans for over 10,000 settler units in 2018: PLO

A general view shows Israel's controversial separation barrier between the West Bank village of al-Zaayem and Israel's largest settlement Ma'ale Adumim (background) on September 27, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) says Israeli officials approved plans for the construction of more than 10,000 homes in the West Bank last year, heedless of the international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The organization, in a report published on Wednesday, said Israeli authorities gave the green light for 10,298 new units, of which 2,600 were built in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The report added that Israeli authorities approved a new settlement – called the Amihai settlement – near the West Bank city of Nablus, along with a new neighborhood in the Gush Etzion settlement near Bethlehem, situated about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Israeli officials confiscated 3,439 dunams (3.439 square kilometers) of private Palestinian land in the West Bank, including 1,182 dunams (1.182 square kilometers) in the strategic Jordan Valley.

The report further noted that Israeli forces uprooted some 7,600 olive, palm and almond trees in the West Bank last year. 

It also stated that Israeli authorities demolished 538 homes and structures in 2018, while issuing demolition orders for another 460 structures. 

The demolitions, the report highlighted, resulted in the displacement of some 1,300 Palestinians, including 225 children. 

Israeli settlement construction activities surged in Trump era

Meanwhile, the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now says figures, gathered from official Israeli sources, show an increase in the construction of settler units in 2018 and a sharp spike in planning for future construction.

It added that the trend has only deepened Palestinian mistrust in the administration of US President Donald Trump as it says it is preparing to roll out a so-called peace plan. 

Less than a month before Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

A picture taken on September 27, 2018 shows Israel's controversial barrier separating the settlement of Neve Yaakov (foreground) in the northern area of East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Ram (background) in the occupied West Bank. (Photo by AFP)

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

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

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” the US president said during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on February 15.

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