Israel to build new settlement units in East Jerusalem

The process will conclude just days before US President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

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(THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel on Sunday issued a tender for the construction of new illegal settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement organization, the Israel Land Authority announced on its website that it had opened up tenders for 1,257 new homes in Givat HaMatos in East Jerusalem.

Brian Reeves, a spokesperson for Peace Now, said the move allows contractors to begin bidding on tenders. The process will conclude just days before US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Construction could then start within months.

(Peace Now)

“This is a lethal blow to the likelihood for peace,” Peace Now said in a statement, adding Israel was “taking the benefit of the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration to set facts on the ground that will be exceptionally hard to undo to achieve peace.”

In 2014, Israel froze a decision to build 2,600 housing units in the same settlement due to international pressure.

The Palestinian leadership says construction in the Givat Hamatos settlement would block off the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the southern West Bank from East Jerusalem, further cutting off access for Palestinians to that part of the town.

“This is a resumption of the current Israeli government policy in demolishing the two-state solution,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli authorities approved the construction of 108 illegal housing units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in East Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to travel to the region this week, where he is expected to explore an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials have denounced Pompeo’s planned visit.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh tweeted that this was a “dangerous precedent” that legalizes settlements.

With nearly 500,000 illegal settlers now living in the West Bank, and more than 220,000 others in East Jerusalem, the Palestinians say the prospects of establishing their state are quickly dwindling.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is regarded as an “occupied territory” under international law, making all Jewish settlements illegal.

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