Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the construction of 3,500 settler apartments in the occupied West Bank just a week before the general election. The apartments are to be built in the strategically important area E1 east of Jerusalem, as the Israeli media reported today. Netanyahu said that at a party event, a Likud spokeswoman confirmed.
Just yesterday, Netanyahu announced the expansion of two Jewish quarters in annexed East Jerusalem. A total of 5,200 apartments for Jewish residents were to be built. In addition, 1,000 apartments were to be built in the Arab quarter of Beit Safafa.
Particularly sensitive area
Area E1 is particularly sensitive to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, as it divides the West Bank into a northern and a southern half. It is among the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control.
In the past, the German federal government had also warned against the construction of settler apartments in the area because „this significantly reduces the prospects of a coherent Palestinian territory – and thus the feasibility of a two-state solution“.
UN calls for freeze on settlement
At the end of 2016, the UN Security Council called on Israel to completely freeze settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. Settlements were described in UN Resolution 2334 as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The US had shared this view in the past, but moved away in November.