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Jordan condemns new Israeli settlement plans


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — Jordan on Wednesday condemned the Israeli decision to build 1,936 new illegal settlement units in occupied West Bank, calling on the international community to do all it takes to stop the occupation authorities' unilateral measures.
In a statement on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Deifallah Fayez said that settlements are a violation of international law and undermine peace efforts. 
Israel has approved the construction of 1,936 new settler units on occupied Palestinian territories, watchdog Peace Now said on Monday.
The green light was given on Sunday and on Monday, Peace Now said, adding that 89 per cent of the new units will be erected in "settlements that Israel may have to evacuate under a future peace agreement with the Palestinians".
The watchdog says settlement building has vastly increased under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ally US President Donald Trump.
Israel's defence minister on Wednesday said he aimed to boost the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to one million within a decade, from around 400,000 at present, according to AFP.
Naftali Bennett, a hawk who draws much of his support from settlers, is leading his New Right Party to elections in March.
He was speaking at a Jerusalem congress on Washington's November policy shift stating that it no longer considers Israeli settlements illegal, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US ambassador David Friedman, AFP reported.
"Our aim is that within a decade a million Israeli citizens will live in Judaea and Samaria," Bennett said, using the biblical term for the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
He challenged use of the term "occupied".
"A people cannot be an occupier in its [own] land," Bennett said. Netanyahu made the same point more bluntly.
"We are not occupiers in our homeland, we are not occupiers in our own land, we are not like the Belgians in the Congo," he said.
Friedman, who is also Jewish and a strong supporter of settlements, said the new US policy clearly states that "Israelis, Jews have the right to live in Judaea and Samaria", according to AFP.
Friedman and Bennet's comments drew swift condemnation from the Palestinian Authority.
The PA foreign ministry described them as "racist" and "reflecting the Jewish colonial nature of the deal of the century"  a reference to US President Donald Trump's so-far undisclosed peace plan.
It said their statements were "official confessions of their involvement in the crime of settlement and the confiscation of Palestinian land".
On November 18, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements to be “inconsistent with international law,” AFP reported.
Previously US policy was based, at least in theory, on a legal opinion issued by the State Department in 1978 which said that establishing settlements in Palestinian territories captured a decade earlier by Israel went against international law.
The Fourth Geneva Convention on the laws of war explicitly forbids moving civilians into occupied territories.
The about-turn brought stiff international and Palestinian criticism.
The United Nations and European Union said the decision would not change the reality that the settlements were illegal, while the Arab League condemned Washington’s unilateral move.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, alongside more than three million Palestinians.
Shortly after taking up his post in November Bennett announced a plan to double the number of settlers in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

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