Amnesty International today urged Israel to abandon plans to construct 238 new housing units in Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
"The Israeli authorities must immediately halt expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"Not only does the building contravene international law, it also compounds the litany of abuses of the human rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including their rights to adequate housing and water."
The 238 new housing units are planned for the large settlements of Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot, established in 1984 and 1974 respectively. Pisgat Ze'ev now has over 40,000 residents and, like Ramot, its services are provided by the Israeli Jerusalem municipal authority.
The plan for 80 units in Pisgat Ze'ev and 158 in Ramot was announced Thursday by the Israel Lands Administration and the Israeli Ministry for Construction and Housing. According to the Israeli media, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the plans.
Although the areas of Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot were not covered by the recent freeze on settlement construction, which excluded East Jerusalem, all settlement building on occupied land is illegal under international law.
Israel unilaterally annexed 70.5 square kilometers of occupied land in East Jerusalem and its environs following the 1967 war.
Israel's land grab and dissection of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have had a devastating impact on the lives of Palestinians. In East Jerusalem, 35 percent of the land has been expropriated for settlements in which 195,000 Israelis live. Meanwhile, more than 250,000 Palestinians are designated only 13 percent of East Jerusalem, which is already heavily built up.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.