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Israel advances settler expansion plan in occupied al-Quds, imperils Palestinian contiguity

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 general view of the Israeli settlement Givat Hamatos in east al-Quds, on November 15, 2020. (Photo by AP)

An Israeli committee has advanced a plan for the construction of 1,465 settler units in occupied al-Quds, the latest move aimed to erase the so-called Green Line that separates territories occupied by Israel before 1967 from those it occupied after that year.

According to the plan, half of the approved units would be built between the settlements of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, and the rest would be in the occupied East al-Quds.

After the so-called “Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee” approved the plan, it has been advanced to the “deposit” stage. More approvals are still required before the execution of the plan.

The Israeli rights group Peace Now decried the project, saying the planned units would “prevent territorial contiguity” between Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East al-Quds and the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

“This is another way in which Israel is erasing the Green Line in Jerusalem (al-Quds), ending Palestinian contiguity, and expropriating the lands of Palestinians,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the left-wing Ir Amim NGO.

“When Palestinians tried to plan construction there, it was rejected — and now the territory will be confiscated,” Tatarsky added.

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

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has 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 al-Quds as its capital.    

Last month, a Palestinian expert said Israel’s settlement projects in the occupied East al-Quds are aimed at changing the demography and the status quo of the city's borders.

Suheil Khalilieh said that Israel seeks to confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible to expand settlements in East al-Quds by taking advantage of the powers granted to the official in charge of the so-called Absentee Property Law. 


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