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Israel's new PM approves construction of over 3,400 illegal settler units in occupied West Bank

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 of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement in the occupied West Bank on January 28, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has approved the construction of more than 3,400 settler units in the occupied West Bank as part of the regime’s policy of expanding its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Bennett gave the green light to the project on Wednesday, which involves the construction of 3,412 apartment units in an unbuilt area of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, known as E1.

The construction plan has been widely criticized by Palestinian authorities as it cuts land access between Palestinian-inhabited territories in the West Bank and renders any future unified Palestinian state unviable.

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had tried to advance the E1 project but it was halted under pressure from the international community, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and rights groups.

The E1 project was first proposed under former Israeli premier, Yitzhak Rabin, but was then largely frozen over the last three decades.

When Israel's hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, came to power, he allowed the project to be deposited in February 2020, a move, which elicited outcries and protests from the left-wing NGOs Peace Now and Ir Amim.

Tensions have been running high over the past weeks between Israeli forces and Palestinians over the demolition of Palestinian homes and the eviction of their families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Israeli regime on Wednesday demolished 11 Palestinian residential units in the Bedouin community of al-Qabbun in the West Bank.

Tel Aviv is said to be apparently seeking to pave the way for its settlement expansion by carrying out the demolitions in the Bedouin communities north and east of Ramallah.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the move and said the occupying regime plans to “judaize and Israelize” Jerusalem al-Quds and the area C, and to evict the original residents and seize the Palestinian land for the expansion.

Israel justifies the demolition of Palestinian homes by claiming that they lack building permits, despite the fact that Palestinians are not provided with such permits.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says Israeli authorities either demolish or seize Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds, a trend which has led to the displacement of a large number of Palestinian inhabitants over the past few weeks.

Many structures have been targeted in Area C, which accounts for more than 60 percent of area in the West Bank, and forms a significant part of a future Palestine state under the so-called two-state solution.

The Tel Aviv regime also plans to force out Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds in an attempt to replace them with settlers. That plan sparked days of fighting between Gaza-based Hamas resistance group and the Israeli regime in May.

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. 

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

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