UN Condemns Latest Israeli Settlement Plan

An Israeli illegal settlementAn Israeli illegal settlement

The United Nations has denounced recent Israeli initiatives to accelerate settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory, stressing that "unilateral actions" are an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution.

"For the secretary-general there is no plan B for the two-state solution," UN chief Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday, Aljazeera reported.

"In this respect any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary-general." Israel approved a plan to build 2,500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, two days after it accepted building permits for more than 500 settler homes in occupied East Beit ul-Muqaddas.

The biggest settlement plan announced since 2013, it comes close after the election of US President Donald Trump, who has not been critical of settlement activity. Settlements are illegal under international law.

On Tuesday, Trump's chief spokesman refrained from stating a position on the settlement announcement but when asked whether Trump supported the announcement, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: "Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States. He wants to grow closer with Israel." Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Israel halt its settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Dujarric said the UN's position on settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Beit ul-Muqaddas had not changed. The European Union also warned that the move "further seriously undermine[s]" prospects for a two-state solution.

"It is regrettable that Israel is proceeding with this policy, despite the continuous serious international concern and objections, which have been constantly raised at all levels," the EU's external action service's spokesperson said. Palestinian officials condemned the latest announcement.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdeineh said the decision "disregards" international opposition to the settlements and he called on the international community to take a "real and serious position" against Israel.


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