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Israel to build 650 new settlement units in West Bank

Aug. 22, 2018 10:42 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2018 2:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government decided on Tuesday to build 650 new settlement units, for the benefit of expanding the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, one of the biggest settlements, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

A Hebrew-language news outlet reported that the Israeli government decided to build the 650 new settlement units along with another 296 units, which had been previously approved for Beit El.

The Israeli government reportedly justified the illegal Israeli settlement expansion as a "compensation" to Israeli settlers who were removed from their settlement outposts of Olbana in 2012 and Darinov in 2015.

The new settlement units will be laid out as an entirely new neighborhood and will be increasing the population density of Israeli settlers by 65%.

According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, in the year and a half since President Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration (4,476 units).

"The Netanyahu government is clearly continuing to take advantage of the carte blanche the Trump Administration has given it in order to destroy the chances for peace," Peace Now said.

"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. By adding housing to settlements, the government shows total disregard for the two-state solution."

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

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