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Israel to build 540 settler units in East al-Quds for first time since Biden inauguration

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)
A view shows the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on May 19, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Israeli authorities have given the green light for the construction of hundreds of illegal settler units in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds in the first such measure since US President Joe Biden assumed office in late January.

The proposed 540 housing units are to be built in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Safafa and Sharafat, and create territorial continuity between the two major settlements of Har Homa and Givat Hamatos south of East Jerusalem al-Quds, Israeli English-language newspaper Haaretz reported.

The so-called Local Committee for Planning and Construction in the Jerusalem Municipality said it had approved the construction in Har Homa, which will consist of 12- and 30-storey residential towers. The complex will reportedly include road and transport infrastructure and new public spaces.

The outline plan for the units is scheduled to be discussed by the committee on April 21. If approved, the neighborhood would officially go forward.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli decision, with presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh saying in a statement that the move is “condemned and rejected.”

“It violates all United Nations resolutions that condemn settlements, especially Resolution 2334 which affirmed that all forms of settlements on Palestinian lands are illegal,” Abu Rudeineh said.

President Biden had claimed his administration would restore the US policy of opposing settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

His predecessor Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel in December 2017 and announced in November 2019 that his administration no longer considered Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank a violation of international law.

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 expansion in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

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

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