UN Envoy For Peace Denounces New Israeli Settlement Plans
The statement revealed that the Israeli government endorsed construction of 2,400 housing units in existing Israeli settlements in C areas this week. It also highlighted that the expansion of existing settlements has been going unabated over the past several years.
The United Nations’ envoy for Middle East peace, Nicolai Miladinov, said in a statement on Wednesday that recent Israeli plans for further settlement building across the West Bank would hamper the two-state solution that has long been envisioned.
Miladinov’s concerns came in the backdrop of new Israeli tenders to construct new settlement units, throughout areas in the West Bank, designated as C and are subject to full Israeli occupation control, based on the 1993’s Oslo Accords, which laid the foundation for a Palestinian autonomy rule in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
A Prelude To Annexation?
According to the statement, reported by Palestinian Maan News Agency, the UN official viewed the latest Israeli settlement plans as a prelude to Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank. He believes that once Israel takes such a unilateral action, chances for peace in the region will be grossly undermined.
The statement revealed that the Israeli government endorsed the construction of 2,400 housing units in existing Israeli settlements in C areas. It also highlighted that the expansion of existing settlements has been going unabated over the past several years.
The UN’s Middle East peace coordinator dubbed such settlements expansion as a breach of international law, along with UN resolutions, pertaining to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Also this week, the Israeli government approved a multi-phase plan for settlements construction, across West Bank-based Israeli settlements. 2,304 housing settlements will be built, the statement further noted.
Prior to April’s Israeli parliamentary elections, the winning Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had assured his voters that he would work towards annexing the West Bank areas to the state of Israel.
In the meantime, Israel announced last week that it would allow Palestinian population in Israel-controlled C areas, to build a total of 700 housing units.
The announcement was viewed as an attempt by Israel to defuse Palestinians’ anger over the recent Israeli demolition of several Palestinian apartment building in the Sour Baher village, an area that is located between East Jerusalem and West Bank, and is being surrounded by an Israeli separation barrier.
In response to the demolitions, Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, had unilaterally declared suspension of implementation of all signed peace agreements with Israel, except in humanitarian matters that concern the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Areas, designated as C, constitute 61 percent of the West Bank territories. The areas are occupied by Israeli settlers, who live alongside indigenous Palestinian residents. Yet, Palestinians in these areas suffer from segregation through Israel’s separation barrier, home demolitions under the pretext of lacking building permissions, in addition to the chase and arrest of Palestinian inhabitants by Israel’s military.
In June 1967, Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip during the Arab-Israeli War. The U.N. Security Council at that time demanded an immediate withdrawal from those territories by means of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
In the 1970s, Israel began settlement activities in the occupied territories. Israel named the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, which Israel believes to be exclusively Israeli land.
There are currently approximately 215,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem while the settler population in Area C in the occupied West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, is about 413,000. This brings the settler population to approximately 630,000 Israeli settlers in 143 settlement locations in the West Bank (132) including East Jerusalem and 106 outposts.