The US has “strongly condemned” Israel for approving plans for new settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. The White House and state department said plans for up to 300 new homes and an industrial zone were diminishing prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel insisted fewer than 100 homes had been approved. Its foreign ministry said the new homes would be built within the area of an existing settlement.
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) secretary general Saeb Erekat said while Palestinians welcomed Washington’s criticism, they expected it “to take real action”. “After almost 50 years of systematic Israeli colonisation and belligerent military occupation of the State of Palestine, the US must implement the necessary tools to end Israeli settlements, including through the UN Security Council, end funding to Israel, and stop funding settlements through US-based organisations fuelling violence and discrimination against Palestinians,” he said.
About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. In July, world powers warned of “perpetual occupation and conflict” between Israelis and Palestinians.(BBC,2016)