Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned Israel’s plans to build nearly 4,000 new illegal settlement units across the occupied West Bank, during a meeting with Norwegian Representative Hilde Haraldstad on Monday, October 9.
Ashrawi’s comments came after Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to approve the construction of 3,829 housing units in West Bank settlements, a promise that Netanyahu himself reportedly made to settler leaders last month.
The pending units include 300 in the Ramallah-area settlement of Beit El; 206 units in the settlement of Tekoa and 158 in Kfar Etzion, the latter two both being located south of Bethlehem; 129 units in the settlement of Avne Hefez in the area of Tulkarem; 102 units in Negohot, in the southern Hebron hills; 97 units in the settlement Rahelim in the area of Nablus; 48 units in the settlement of Ma’ale Mikhmas in the area of Ramallah; and 30 units in an unspecified settlement in the area of Hebron.
“Clearly, Israel is bent on entrenching the military occupation and its illegal settlement enterprise, further reaffirming its intentions of displacing Palestine and replacing it with ‘Greater Israel’,” Ashrawi said, highlighting that the pending permits will be granted for settlements in which the construction of new housing units has not taken place in years.
“Rather than becoming party to Israel’s unlawful breach of international law and conventions, the global community should hold Israel accountable for acting outside the law before it destroys the prospects of a viable Palestinian state, peace and stability indefinitely,” Ashrawi said during her meeting with Haraldstad at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah.
The estimated 196 government-recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law. Meanwhile, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that in 2016 Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions of homes and other buildings since the group began recording such incidents. At the same time, Peace Now reported that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34% in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction of 1,814 new housing units in settlements.