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UN urges 'immediate' halt to Israeli settlement expansion

Settlers construct a structure in Givat Eviatar, a new Israeli settler outpost, near the Palestinian village of Beita in the West Bank on June 23, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

The United Nations says Israel is flagrantly violating international law by expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. 

The call was made at a session on the implementation of a 2016 Security Council resolution Thursday, with the UN calling for an immediate cessation to the advancement of all settlement activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Mideast envoy Tour Wennesland reported on the implementation the resolution that declared settlements have “no legal validity.”

During the meeting, UN officials warned that Israeli settlements are a major obstacle to a solution to the decades-long conflict in the occupied territories.

Guterres’ 12-page report called on Israel to end the demolition of Palestinian homes and other property as well as the displacement of Palestinians.

On Thursday, Israel advanced plans for 31 new settlement construction projects in the occupied West Bank. 

Wennesland said he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s approval of a plan to add 540 housing units to the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem Al-Quds as well as the establishment of settlement outposts.  

“I again underscore, in no uncertain terms, that Israeli settlements constitute a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions and international law,” the UN envoy said. “They are a major obstacle to the achievement of a ... just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Wennesland said "The advancement of all settlement activity must cease immediately.” 

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

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law.

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