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EU condemns Israeli tenders for construction of over 1,300 new settler units

The picture shows construction in the Israeli settlement of Rahalim, located near the Palestinian village of Yatma, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on October 13, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union has denounced Israel’s recent plan to construct over 1,300 new settler units in the occupied West Bank, calling on the Tel Aviv regime to halt its settlement expansion activities across the occupied Palestinian territories.

"Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the [so-called] two-state solution...," an unnamed EU spokesperson said in a statement on Monday, Palestine's official Wafa news agency reported.

The EU has consistently made clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to al-Quds, other than those agreed by both sides, the statement added.

The spokesperson further called on Israel not to proceed with the tenders announced a day earlier for the construction of more than 1,300 units in Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as another tender for building an additional 83 units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos in East al-Quds.

On Sunday, the so-called Israeli ministry of housing announced in a statement that tenders have been published for 1,355 units in the West Bank and final approval is expected from the ministry of military affairs this week for these settler units.

The ministry further noted that the new units would be added to more than 2,000 settler units that reports said in August would be authorized for Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

The new illegal Israeli settler units are to be built in seven settlement areas and outposts, it added.  

The declaration drew immediate condemnation from Palestinians, peace activists as well as neighboring Jordan, which denounced the move as "a violation of international law."

The anti-settlement group Peace Now also said the announcement proved that the current Israeli cabinet clearly continues former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “policy of de facto annexation.”

Since taking over in June, the regime, headed by right-wing premier Naftali Bennett, has begun rapid expansion of settlements in contravention of international law.

Bennett has also ruled out formal peace talks with the Palestinian Authority during his tenure, saying he prefers to focus on economic improvements.

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

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion.

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

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