Israel approves 172 more settlements, construction next step
The Israeli government announced plans for 3,200 more settlement homes earlier this month (File Archive)
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At least 172 new settler homes were approved for construction in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank Wednesday by Israel, according to Agence France Presse.
Jerusalem city councilor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP about the approval. "The municipality approved this morning the construction of 172 apartments in Har Homa [in East Jerusalem]," Alalu said.
The announcement comes only two weeks after Tel Aviv announced plans to construct thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, despite the fact that such action is considered illegal under international law.
Alalu, who is part of the Meretz party who opposes settlement building said that the approval will continue to harm the already fragile peace process. ""This is the final stage before construction, and is the continuation of a policy that harms the peace process," Alalu told AFP.
The latest settlement announcements and approvals are seen as a retaliatory response to the Palestinian leadership's decision to form a unity government between the Hamas and Fatah parties.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-winged Likud Party has called on the international community and Fatah-affiliated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to end the unity government deal with Hamas, citing the latter as "terrorists" and "unsuitable" to serve as a "political partner."
Israel has more recently accused Hamas as responsible for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Palestinian leadership is planning to pass an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council for the first time in over three years, according to the AFP report.