Toronto, MINA – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the Israeli government to “halt and reverse” its latest decisions on settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, said a UN spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by yesterday’s decision by the Israeli government to amend settlement planning procedures. The changes can be expected to expedite the advancement of Israeli settlement plans in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” said UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq in a statement.
The Secretary-General is also deeply alarmed by the anticipated advancement next week of over 4,000 settlement housing units by Israeli planning authorities, Haq said.
Guterres reiterated that settlements are “a flagrant violation of international law” and a major obstacle to the realization of a viable two-state solution and a lasting peace.
He noted that the expansion of the settlements “is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs.”
The expansion “further entrenches Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, encroaches on Palestinian land and natural resources, hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population, and undermines the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and sovereignty,” he added.
Guterres urged the Israeli government to halt and reverse such decisions and to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, fully respecting its legal obligations in that regard.
He further called for more concrete steps to implement the commitments made in the joint communiqués in Aqaba, Jordan and Sharm al-Sheik, Egypt.
The Israeli government announced new tenders on Sunday to build some 4,500 settlement units in existing settlements across the West Bank.
The UN considers the Israeli settlement activity illegal and says it undermines the internationally agreed two-state solution.
Estimates indicate that about 700,000 settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.(T/R3/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)