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Israeli cabinet vows to build more settlements, continue Netanyahu’s land theft policy

Israeli settlers carrying assault rifles gather next to an inflatable children’s attraction in the newly-established wildcat outpost of Eviatar near the northern Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, July 1, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

In total disregard for international calls against the Israeli regime’s policy of land theft, the regime's new cabinet has reportedly pledged to build more settlements by stealing the Palestinian people’s lands in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem al-Quds.

Hebrew newspaper Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Israel’s interior minister, Ayelet Shaked, met last week with members of the Yesha council, the umbrella organization of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

During the meeting, Shaked conveyed the Israeli cabinet’s pledge to continue to build more settlements in the same way it was done under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

She also affirmed the new cabinet’s plan to approve a new construction project at meetings of the higher zoning committee of the Israeli military every three months.

Palestine’s official Wafa news agency also reported that the regime in Tel Aviv intends to steal around 8,500 dunums of land belonging to the Palestinians for the benefit of expanding two existing settlements built in the towns of Qarawat Bani Hassan and Deir Istiya.

Israel has continued its policy of land theft in recent weeks, in spite of warnings by the Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip, following an 11-day war on Gaza in May that prompted Israel to adopt a unilateral ceasefire.

Throughout the war, from May 10 to 21, Israel continuously bombarded the strip. The campaign came after the regime’s repeated assaults against the Palestinians in the West Bank, in particular the forced displacement plots in the East Jerusalem al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The regime also continues its systematic violence against Palestinians while restricting their freedom of movement across the occupied territories.

On Thursday night, Jewish settlers seized a Palestinian residential building in Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in East Jerusalem al-Quds’s Silwan neighborhood.

According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, dozens of masked Israeli policemen and settlers stormed the neighborhood, closed the entrance to the Al-Fakhouri yard with a truck and prevented locals from approaching the area, and then captured a house while the residents were not inside.

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.

The UN Security Council has only condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

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

The forced displacements of Palestinians by Israeli forces, which have been intensified in recent months, are seen as part of Israel’s efforts to change the demographic character of the occupied territories.

In a report on Friday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Israeli forces have either demolished or seized 24 Palestinian-owned structures in a span of two weeks.

Israel’s settlement expansion activities have been widely condemned throughout the globe, not least within the Muslim world.

On Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the demolition of Palestinian houses and facilities in Bustan is “an extension of the deportation of al-Quds original inhabitants to realize Judaization and colonial settlement designs with the aim of altering the demographic, geographic, and legal reality of the Holy City.”

The Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), a human rights organization, urged Israel to immediately evacuate extremist settlers from the so-called Aviatar outpost, built near Nablus in the West Bank.

In a statement, the JLAC said it considers any decision that does not lead to the unconditional removal of all settlement buildings set up on Jabal Sabih lands owned by Palestinians as “a dangerous precedent.”

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