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Israel approves 780 new illegal settler units in occupied 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)
Laborers work on a building construction site in the Israeli settlement of Susya, in the southern area of the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), on January 12, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now says Israeli authorities have advanced plans for the construction of 780 new illegal settler units in the occupied West Bank, days before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Peace Now, which tracks settlement construction in the occupied territory, said Sunday that Israel has approved "plans to build 780 housing units in settlements, most of them deep in the West Bank”, adding that the move will put the Tel Aviv regime "on a collision course" with the incoming US administration.

"Not only will this settlement activity erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with the Palestinians in the long-term, but in the short-term it needlessly sets Israel on a collision course with the incoming Biden administration”, the group said.

The announcement came a week after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered plans be advanced for the construction of 800 new illegal settler units in the occupied West Bank.

Peace Now said at the time that Netanyahu's announcement sends a signal to the Biden administration that “Israel wants a confrontation”.

Biden, who will be sworn on Wednesday, has already indicated his administration will restore US policy of opposing settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Biden had an important role in Israeli settlement construction freeze in Jerusalem al-Quds as well as the West Bank during the administration of former US President Barack Obama, where he served as vice president.

This is while the administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump staunchly supported the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement expansion and land expropriation policies.

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

After Trump took office in December 2016, Israel stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Jordan slams Israel's new settlement plan

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate strongly condemned the Israeli regime’s plan for the construction of 780 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

The ministry’s spokesman Dhaifullah al-Fayez said in a statement on Sunday that the move marks a flagrant and grave violation of the international law and resolutions, most notably the UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Fayez highlighted that the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement construction and expansion policies, besides expropriation of Palestinians’ lands and their displacement, are roundly rejected as they constitute a breach of the international law, undermine the foundations of peace and efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and eliminate the chances of a so-called two-state solution.

The senior Jordanian official then called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and pressure Israel into abandoning its settlement expansion policies.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.

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

Experts believe Netanyahu has domestic political reasons for pushing Israel’s settlement expansion activities.

Israel is on an almost certain course for snap general elections, and the campaigns will focus on increasing settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, just as in all previous ones.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is once again putting his personal political interests over those of Israel," Peace Now said.

Under the so-called Middle East peace plan unveiled by Trump last year, Israel will have sovereignty over all of Jerusalem al-Quds as well as settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinians have rejected the plan as a conspiracy since they demand East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of their future state, and many believe the settlement expansion is aimed at surrounding the Palestinian capital.

To Palestinians, expansion of illegal Israeli settlements makes a future state unviable.

Palestinians say all indications prove that Israel is racing against time to build new settlements before the outgoing US administration leaves office.

The Palestinian Authority has warned that settlement activity has grave consequences in the occupied West Bank, and will definitely lead to more Palestinian land grab by the Israeli regime to facilitate the annexation of the occupied territories.

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