The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said on Monday he was “deeply concerned” that Israel had decided to “alter settlement planning procedures that have been in place since 1996, which is expected to expedite settlement expansion.”
“I am also alarmed by the anticipated advancement next week of over 4,000 settlement housing units by Israeli planning authorities,” Wennesland added.
Media reports quoting Israeli sources said on Sunday authorities had tabled plans to approve the construction of 4,560 settler units in various areas of the West Bank. The plans were included on the agenda of an Israeli planning council that meets next week.
“I reiterate that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East al-Quds, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law,” Wennesland stated, urging Israel “to halt and reverse such decisions, which are a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
“At a time of increased violence and fragility on the ground, the prolonged absence of a political process, and concerted international and regional efforts to support constructive dialogue between the parties, such steps only push Israelis and Palestinians further apart and risk destabilizing an already highly tense situation on the ground,” Wennesland added.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also called on Israel to immediately “cease all settlement activities” in occupied Palestinian territory, describing Israel’s plans to advance the building of Israeli settlements as driving “tensions and violence” and being a major obstacle to a lasting peace.
“The Secretary-General reiterates that settlements are a flagrant violation of international law,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the secretary general, said in a statement on Monday.
“The expansion of these illegal settlements is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs,” Haq added.
“It further entrenches Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, encroaches on Palestinian land and natural resources, hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population, and undermines the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and sovereignty,” the UN chief stated, according to Haq.
Haq noted that Guterres was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s decision to amend settlement planning procedures that would speed up plans for new settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the advancement of more than 4,000 settlement housing units by Israel’s planning authorities.
The Israeli regime has already authorized new settlement outposts and pledged to construct new units in the West Bank.
Since taking office in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the promotion of more than 7,000 new settler units. It also amended a law to clear the way for settlers to return to four settlements that had previously been evacuated.
Emboldened by former President Donald Trump of the United States and his all-out support, Israel stepped up its settlement expansion in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”