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Israeli settlement expansion plan receives global censure

A construction site at the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) (file photo)

A construction site at the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) (file photo)

Many countries, including Israel’s allies, have censured a plan by the Tel Aviv regime to construct thousands more illegal settler units in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

On November 30, Israel approved a plan to build 3,000 more units in East al-Quds and the West Bank, including in the controversial E1 area.

The E1 project aims at connecting the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim to East al-Quds, about six kilometers away. The plan will cut off the northern part of the West Bank from the south.

Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt said on Monday that the Israeli plan is “pure vengeance against the Palestinians following the UN vote.”

On November 29, the 193-member UN General Assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.

The observer state status grants Palestinians access to UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, where they can file formal complaints against the Israeli regime.

Israeli media reported on Sunday that the regime would not transfer the tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority this month.

“Israel’s decisions to halt tax payment transfers and to extend illegal settlements around Jerusalem might dramatically escalate the situation,” the Swedish minister stated.

On Monday, the UK and France summoned the Israeli ambassadors to London and Paris to protest against the settlement expansion.

In addition, Turkey strongly condemned the move on Sunday, and its foreign ministry said in a statement that Israel’s “illegal settlement activities intentionally deprive conditions of lasting peace in the region.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Tel Aviv on Friday to cancel the plan. She said the Israeli decision is “counterproductive.”

Clinton made the remarks at a forum in Washington attended by top Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Minister for Military Affairs Ehud Barak.

The Israeli settlement expansion decision has also sparked diplomatic protest from Germany, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who on Sunday expressed “grave concern and disappointment.”

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The settlements are considered illegal by the UN and much of the international community.

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