Israel – Palestinians – Conflict – West Bank

Israel Approves Plans for more than 200 New West Bank Settler Homes

Israel Approves Plans for more than 200 New West Bank Settler Homes
Thu Apr 14, 2016 17:48:44

Israel has approved plans for more than 200 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, adding to a sharp increase in settlement projects so far this year, Israeli campaigners said Thursday.

Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for settlement watchdog Peace Now said the government had given the green light for at least 229 homes, which are at various stages in the technical process.

Settlements are considered illegal under international law and are seen as major stumbling blocks to peace efforts since they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

“This policy is killing the two-state solution,” Ofran told AFP.

The projects must pass through five administrative stages before winning final approval from Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

There was no immediate response from Israel’s defense ministry, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment.

Peace Now said this week that the number of West Bank settlements Israel plans to build more than tripled in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year.

Between January and March, projects for 674 housing units passed at least one of the steps in the planning approval process, up from 194 in the first quarter of 2015, it said.

The new plans bring the total to at least 903.

The United States and the European Union, among others, have strongly criticized Israeli settlement construction.

Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erekat said in a statement that “the continued Israeli colonization of Palestine is a war crime under international law.”

“The latest approval of settlement construction, and the significant increase in Israeli settlement activity during 2016, should serve as a reminder to the international community of its responsibility to put an end to such crimes,” he said.

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