Israel approves more than 2,300 settler homes: NGO

Israeli settlement in the West Bank considered illegal according to UN resolutions. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 31 October 2019

Israel approves more than 2,300 settler homes: NGO

  • Plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year

JERUSALEM: Israel has approved the construction of 2,342 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Thursday.
It said the decision was taken on October 10 and that 59 percent of the new homes will be erected in “settlements that Israel likely may evacuate under a peace agreement” with the Palestinians.
According to Peace Now, which closely monitors Israeli settlement building, plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year.
It said this represented an increase of close to 50 percent compared with 2018 when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved.
“This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since President Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them,” said the NGO.
All settlements are considered illegal under international law and are built on land that the Palestinians see as part of their future state, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
Peace Now said that settlement construction has increased under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after failing to form a coalition government following September elections.
“Netanyahu continues to sabotage the possibility of a political agreement with the Palestinians by promoting more settlement construction in the West Bank, including in places where Israel may have to evacuate as part of a future agreement,” Peace Now said.
Included in the 2,342 new housing units are 182 that are due to be built in Mevoot Yericho, a former outpost near Jericho which the Netanyahu government legalized before the September polls, Peace Now said.
Ramping up the construction of settlement homes “is yet another dangerous step for both Israel and the Palestinians, led by a transitional prime minister whom the public did not trust in his policies.
“The next government must put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples,” Peace Now added.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has tasked ex-military chief Benny Gantz to form a government after Netanyahu failed to set up a coalition for the second time this year.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.


France, Algeria pledge to relaunch relations after rift

Updated 54 min 16 sec ago

France, Algeria pledge to relaunch relations after rift

  • Macron spoke by phone Tuesday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune
  • They spoke “in a spirit of friendship” and “mutual respect for the others’ sovereignty”

ALGIERS: The French and Algerian presidents have pledged to “relaunch” relations after a week-long diplomatic rift that led to the recall of the Algerian ambassador to Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone Tuesday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, discussing the coronavirus crisis and conflicts in Libya and the Sahel, said the Elysee Palace.
They spoke “in a spirit of friendship” and “mutual respect for the others’ sovereignty” and “affirmed their willingness to work together for the stability and security of the region,” it said.
“They also agreed to work toward a peaceful relationship and an ambitious relaunch of bilateral cooperation in all areas.”
Algeria said both sides agreed to “give a positive boost” to relations “on a sustainable foundation capable of guaranteeing mutual common interest and full respect for the distinctiveness and sovereignty of each of the two countries.”
The phone talk appeared to put an end to a diplomatic crisis triggered by the broadcast on French television of documentaries on the “Hirak” anti-government protest movement in Algeria.
Algiers had recalled its ambassador in Paris, Salah Lebdioui, for consultations, denouncing one of the films for “attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions,” including the army.
Earlier in the year, Tebboune had called for “mutual respect” in Franco-Algerian relations, saying his country “will not accept any interference or tutelage” from abroad.
The leaders agreed to coordinate on working to restore security and stability in the region in regards to Libya and the Sahel region, the Algerian statement added.
Algeria’s neighbor Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival administrations and multiple militias currently struggling for power.
France and five Sahel nations — including three of Algeria’s immediate neighbors — pledged earlier this year to bolster efforts against jihadists waging an increasingly deadly insurgency.