Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman issues a statement at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2015 AFP/File Gali Tibbon
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the termination of all non-security related coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday in response to the UN Security Council adoption of a resolution demanding Israel end all settlement building activity, according to Israeli media.
The Jerusalem Post cited sources from Israel’s Ministry of Defense on Sunday saying that Lieberman gave the order to Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) -- the agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Israeli news website Arutz Sheva reported that Lieberman “forbade” senior Israeli army officials from contacting PA representatives.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defense was not immediately available for comment.
The number of settlers living in the occupied West Bank has increased from 281,100 in 2008 to 385,900 in 2015, excluding those residing in occupied East Jerusalem. The Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 Israeli settlers currently reside in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.
Meanwhile, plans for some 3,000 settler units were advanced since the start 2016 as of August according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, including hundreds of existing units that were “retroactively legalized” after formerly being considered illegal under Israeli domestic law.
Israeli leadership has reacted with outrage and defiance
since the UNSC approved the resolution, which states that settlements have "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law," and call on the nations of the world "to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967."
Maale Adumim, located just seven kilometers east of Jerusalem, is the third largest settlement in population size, that many Israelis consider it an Israeli city that would remain under Israeli control in any final status agreement reached with Palestinians as part of a two-state solution.
Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel's parliament have repeatedly come forward announcing their support for annexing Area C.
A recent report
by human rights group B'Tselem argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.