On Thursday, the Israeli government approved the construction of an additional 2,070 settlement units in the occupied region of the West Bank. According to Israel’s Civil Administration, at least 696 of the units were immediately approved for construction, while an additional 1,262 were advanced through an early planning stage.
Under international law, settlements of this type in occupied territories are illegal. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority government filed a war crimes complaint with the International Criminal Court against Israel’s construction of new settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. Peace Now, an Israeli organization, claims that approximately 14,454 settlement units have been approved in the West Bank since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, which is more than triple the number that was approved in the two years before his inauguration. The organization went on to condemn the Israeli administration for taking advantage of the “carte blanche” given to it by the Trump administration in order to destroy the chances for peace between the two countries. In a statement, the organization posited that “It is well known that for a two-state solution to be feasible, Israel will have to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Yet the government keeps raising the political cost of this redeployment and the evictions it will entail.”
The Trump administration released a statement on Wednesday contradicting Israel’s actions, suggesting that Israel will reduce their future settlement construction in order to allow peace talks to progress. A statement given by a White House spokesperson read, “The president has made his position on new settlement activity clear, and we encourage all parties to continue to work towards peace. The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration. The United States welcomes this. As the president has said repeatedly, the administration is firmly committed to pursuing a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
This renewed round of tension comes in the wake of one of the most violent weeks in the region in many months, when more than 100 Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli fire while marching against the United States’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Though Israeli rhetoric has consistently preached otherwise, the state’s actions are only serving to further strain relations between Israel and Palestine, and hopes of constructive peace talks seem to worsen with every move President Netanyahu makes.
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