Israeli Government today announced its plans to build 300 new units in the Palestinian territory at the Beit El settlement.
Media reports say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the construction of the new units hours after the parliament rejected a bill to legalize settlement outposts.
With the recent announcement of the planned settlements in West Bank, a top United Nations envoy today reiterated that all settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory represents a breach of international law.
“All settlement construction – whether on private Palestinian land or elsewhere in occupied Palestinian territory – is contrary to international law.” – UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry
UN Coordinator Calls For Action
Mr. Serry said the announcement is “deeply troubling” and reiterated his recent warning to the Security Council that “if the parties do not grasp the current opportunity, they should realize the implication is not merely slowing progress toward a two-State solution. Instead, we could be moving down the path toward a one-State reality, which would also move us further away from regional peace in the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Earlier this month, new United Nations report revealed that Palestinian development is hampered by ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements.
The UN report highlighted that the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories remains “extremely worrying and precarious.”
International Labour Organization Report
According to the International Labour Organization, the ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, which is to be an essential part of a future Palestinian state continues to be under full Israeli control, with Palestinians denied access to their livelihoods and to one another.
The report – The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories – appears as an appendix in the ILO Director-General’s annual report to the 101st International Labour Conference, taking place in Geneva.
The report notes that the deteriorating conditions for workers are due to the realities of the occupation on the ground and the unabated expansion of Israeli settlements.
The report also notes the need for the Middle East peace process to encompass institutions and policies for job creation, social dialogue, gender equality, social security, and fair incomes.
In addition, it calls initiatives to improve education, stop the demolition of schools in the West Bank, and stop the erosion of skills in Gaza.
ILO notes that the findings of the report are based on a mission sent earlier this year to the occupied Arab territories and Israel to assess the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
Mr Ban Calls For Progress
On February this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the ongoing Israeli occupations are illegal and impede Palestinian economic viability at the West Bank.
In his remarks at the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, which is taking place in Cairo, Mr. Ban renewed his call for progress in the Middle East peace process.
Mr. Ban also higlighted the toll taken on the economy and lives of the Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli occupation.
He stressed economic progress cannot be reached and sustained absent a credible political solution on the horizon.
The UN chief got a first-hand look at the situation on the ground and challenges on the road to peace during his trip to the region last week. He visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
He noted that settlements and their infrastructure severely restrict access to land and natural resources by the Palestinian people.
He also called once again for immediate action on the closure of the Gaza Strip. He stressed that the full opening of legitimate crossings for the import of construction materials is critical for Gaza’s economic recovery.
Dialogue is at a standstill, as the long-standing differences continue
He urged both parties to renew dialogue and find solution to end the long-standing conflict between the two countries.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September last year following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.