Peace talks: Half a million Israelis live in illegal settlements
November 3, 2013
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, said that Washington must send the Tel Aviv regime a clear message that its actions are jeopardizing peace efforts.
“Settlement is illegal and the fence will be removed,” the spokesman said. “There will be no peace or stability in the region without the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The warning came on the eve of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Middle East region.
Israel’s decision to build the wall and nearly 2000 more settler units has angered Palestinians ahead of the talks with Kerry. The Palestinians have threatened to go to the UN Security Council over the issue.
According to settlement watchdog, Peace Now, which opposes and tracks settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, the tenders for 1,859 new illegal settler units were published on Sunday.
The non-governmental organization noted that 1,031 plots were offered by Israel's Housing and Construction Ministry in the occupied West Bank, along with 828 in the East al-Quds.
"Within a few months they will choose the winning bids and the successful contractors will be able to start building within a number of weeks," Peace Now's Settlement Watch project director, Hagit Ofran, said.
Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because the territories were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip and are demanding Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.