The construction of new housing in Jewish settlements located in occupied territories in the West Bank has provoked the rejection and condemnation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the international community.
A total of 3,130 houses in Jewish settlements will be built, in addition to another 780 approved in January of this year. The buildings, which have been given the green light by the High Planning Council of COGAT (the Israeli coordination office for activities in the Palestinian territories), will be located in 30 different settlements in West Bank territory and far from Israeli territory.
For PNA President Mahmoud Abbas, this is a move that “pushes things towards a state of instability and tension” and added that such unilateral decisions “destroy what is left of the two-state solution”.
For his part, the UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, assured that “all settlements are illegal under international law, and remain a substantial obstacle to peace and must cease immediately”.
The United States also spoke out on the matter. The government said it was “deeply concerned” about Israel’s plans and opposed the construction of more homes in the occupied territories in the West Bank.
“We strongly oppose settlement expansion, which is completely incompatible with efforts to reduce tensions and restore calm and damages the prospects for a two-state solution,” said Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department.
On the European side, European Council (EC) President Charles Michel conveyed to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh the European Union’s (EU) commitment to the two-state solution to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“We focus on European support for Palestinian state-building efforts and the regional context. I reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the two-state solution,” Michel said via his Twitter account.
But the U.S., U.N. and EU requests in recent days did not stop Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz from issuing the construction permits or Housing Minister Zeev Elkin from announcing the new tender.