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Israel approves construction of over 3,000 settler units in occupied territories

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)
The file photo, taken on January 21, 2021, shows construction work in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. (By AFP)

Israel has advanced plans for the construction of more settler units in the occupied West Bank, despite a rare criticism of the move coming from Washington.

On Wednesday, a military committee gave the green light to the construction of 1,800 homes, and the initial approval for another 1,344 units in the West Bank.

The latest approval comes a day after the US criticized Tel Aviv’s push to build more units in the occupied territories, saying that the “prospects for a two-state solution” were at risk. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday that Washington was concerned about the “plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank.”

“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm.” Price, however, remained non-committal when asked whether Israel would face any repercussions from Washington over the latest constriction plan. “Our Israeli partners know where we stand, and we’ll continue to engage with them in our diplomacy on this.”

Since taking office in January, US President Joe Biden and his top aides have been reluctant to criticize Israel in public. They have only issued general warnings against steps they say harm the ‘two-state solution.’

Earlier this week, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the international community, not least the United States, to confront Israel over the aggression that settlement construction poses for the Palestinian people.

Israel occupied East al-Quds during the 1967 war and annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that failed to gain recognition of the international community. Palestinians want the occupied West Bank as part of their future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

More than 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. All the settlements are illegal under international law. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the settlement activities in several resolutions.

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