Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A few hours after the UN vote that recognized Palestine as a Non-member Observer State, Israel has approved the construction of 3,000 new homes for settlers in the area of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
According to revelations reported by the Israeli media, some of the settlements will arise between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim colony. The Palestinians are deeply opposed to the plans for the construction of settlements in the area, known as E1. Their development, in fact, will cut the West Bank in two, making it very difficult to create a homogeneous Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as the capital.
Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian statesman, has branded the decision "an act of Israeli aggression towards another State."
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said that by going to the UN, the Palestinians have "violated" the agreements reached earlier and therefore his country is acting accordingly.
In fact, illegal settlements have flourished for decades in the West Bank and around East Jerusalem. At least 500,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 100 settlements built since the 1967 occupation.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, still in New York, said that Palestine wants to open talks with Israel, without any conditions. "But," he added, "there are at least 15 UN resolutions that judge settlement as an illegal activity that is an obstacle to peace and must be removed. Why do [the Israelis] do not stop the settlements?".
Israel approved 1,122 housing units and published tenders for an additional 651 today. In 2017, 420 Palestinian structures were demolished. Violence also continues with one Jewish settler from an illegal outpost killed.
Israeli NGO Peace Now reports that 674 new units have been approved so far this year. For the NGO’s spokesperson Hagit Ofran, the government is promoting construction “quietly and behind the scenes”. Mahmoud Abbas appeals to the UN and stresses the "urgent" need for a resolution.