In flagrant defiance of international outcry against settlement expansion and land grab policies in occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli authorities have approved plans for the construction of hundreds of new settler units in the northern part of al-Quds.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the so-called al-Quds Local Planning and Building Committee on Monday gave the green light for plans to build the units on Palestinian-owned lands in Shuafat camp, Beit Hanina neighborhood, Beit Safafa town, al-Walaja village, Ein Karem neighborhood as well as Lifta village, and in the illegal settlements of Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Kochav Yaakov, Ramot, Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Ze'ev.
The plan aims to make radical changes to the infrastructure in the settlements, linking them to Israel's so-called Greater al-Quds Project and the light rail system.
Khalil Al-Tafkaji, a Palestinian expert specializing in settlement affairs and director of the map department at the Arab Studies Association, said the Israeli project aims to reshape al-Quds with settlement projects so the city will have a completely different panoramic and demographic landscape by the year 2050.
Emboldened by former US president Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Much of the international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN 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 state with East Jerusalem 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 illegal settlement expansion.