UN, US Caution Israel On New Settlement Building In West Bank

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The Palestinian West Bank village of Turmus Ayya and houses under construction in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the Occupied West Bank between Ramallah and Nablus. -- AFP
The Palestinian West Bank village of Turmus Ayya and houses under construction in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the Occupied West Bank between Ramallah and Nablus. — AFP

The Palestinians reacted angrily as what is widely seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history presses ahead with settlement expansion in defiance of international concern.

UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s decision to build the first new government-sanctioned settlement in a quarter century drew a condemnation from UN Secretary General António Guterres on Friday.

Israel’s government approved on Thursday the building of the first new settlement in 20 years in West Bank — a move swiftly condemned as an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution.

A spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed “disappointment and alarm” at the Israeli announcement.

“The secretary general has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.The move — considered illegal under international law — was adopted less than a week after the United Nations asked Israel for not taking any steps to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory, as demanded by the Security Council in a resolution passed in December.

The United States also warned that “unrestrained” building of settler homes could hinder peace, after Israel approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank for the first time in a quarter century.

The Palestinians reacted angrily as what is widely seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history presses ahead with settlement expansion in defiance of international concern.

US President Donald Trump’s administration refrained from criticising the new settlement, which was approved by the Israeli security cabinet late Thursday, but warned that further expansion could undermine peace efforts.

The unanimous vote in favour of construction of the new settlement in an area called Emek Shilo, which was announced in an Israeli government statement, drew instant criticism by Palestinian leaders.

“Today’s announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace,” said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Ashrawi also said it was “ironic” that on the same day that Palestinians somberly marked the killing of six Palestinians and the wounding of more than 1,000 others that Israel’s government announced the establishment of a new illegal settlement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first promised the new settlement at Emek Shilo in February, shortly before dozens of Israeli families were evicted from another West Bank settlement called Amona. — Agencies

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