Israeli authorities have approved the construction of 3144 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank.
The decision was taken by the Civil Administration’s supreme planning council, the Israeli body charged with planning and construction in the occupied West Bank, following discussions on Wednesday (27 October).
This is the first time that the Israeli government has approved the construction of new settlement units since Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the United States of America earlier this year.
The current Israeli government, headed by Naftali Bennett, announced the release of tenders for the construction of 1300 settlement units in the West Bank last week. The same tenders were approved by the previous administration, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday, the US State Department called on Israel to refrain from any unilateral steps, including the construction of more settlements.
On Monday, The European Union (EU) called on the Israeli authorities to halt all settlement construction in the West Bank, including those detailed in already approved tenders.
In a statement published on its website, the EU underlined that such settlements are illegal under international law, and noted that they “constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties.”
Data from Israeli NGOs indicates that there are currently approximately 666,000 Israeli settlers living in 145 settlements and non-licensed 140 outposts across the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, or al-Quds as it is known in Arabic.
In July of this year, Michael Lynk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stated that “the Israeli settlements did amount to a war crime.”
“I submit to you that this finding compels the international community (…) to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free”, Lynk said on the occasion of the release of his report.
Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK has repeatedly called on the international community and decision-makers across the world to take concrete measures to stop the escalating settlements in the occupied territories, especially in al-Quds.
“Continued silence in the face of crimes – or war crimes, as they are under international law – is unacceptable”, the AOHR UK has said.
In February this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) declared its own jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, specifically over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including al-Quds. With a path to an investigation thereby cleared, on 3 March the same court announced the opening of an official investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories.