Israel continues with plans to construct 4500 new settlement units in the West Bank, disregarding international concerns and UN resolutions that denounce these settlements as “illegal and illegitimate” and classify them as “war crimes”. Israeli media reports that the Israeli planning and construction council plans to initiate tenders for these new settlements.
These plans are a result of significant efforts led by Israel’s hardline Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich. He pledges to continue the construction boom throughout the country and especially in the West Bank, asserting that West Bank settlers will no longer be considered second-class citizens.
Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, head of the “Yahadut Hatorah” party and acting Minister of Construction and Housing in the current government, has also called for expanded settlements in the West Bank.
These developments coincide with a recent report by the UN Human Rights Council, presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk. The report affirms that the Israeli settler population in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, has grown from 520,000 to over 700,000 in the last decade. The report also links the expansion of Israeli settlements with an increase in settler attacks against Palestinians.
This new tender for settlement construction in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, starkly violates international law and the Geneva Conventions, which seek to protect occupied civilians and secure Palestinians’ rights to sovereignty, freedom of movement, and economic freedom. The international community is urged to take decisive action against these unlawful practices, to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people, and to safeguard civilian safety in the region.