UN chief urges Israel to ‘halt and reverse’ settlement expansion plans

Antonio Guterres described Israeli decision as troubling and alarming and an obstacle to a future two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and claiming settlements are a significant drive of West Bank tensions
Ynet, i24NEWS, Agencies |
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged Israel to halt and reverse what he described as troubling and alarming decisions on settlement activity in the West Bank, a U.N. spokesperson said. "The Secretary-General reiterates that settlements are a flagrant violation of international law. They are a major obstacle to the realization of a viable two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace," Deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a statement.
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מזכ"ל האו"ם אנטוניו גוטרש משבר מזון
מזכ"ל האו"ם אנטוניו גוטרש משבר מזון
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
(Photo: AP )
"The expansion of these illegal settlements is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs," Haq said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the Israeli government to halt the advancement of settlement plans in the West Bank.
Guterres' spokesperson said he was “deeply alarmed” by the recent decision to consider allowing the construction of over 4,500 new housing units in the West Bank by Israeli planning authorities.
Israel recently announced plans for settlement housing construction raising concerns in Washington as well. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller in an official statement that the United States is "deeply troubled by Israel's decision to promote approximately 4,500 housing units in the West Bank, and by the reports of changes in the administration of the settlements that accelerate the planning and approval of construction."
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Housing construction in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim
Housing construction in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim
Housing construction in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim
(Photo: Reuters)
The government on Sunday decided to transfer authority over construction to far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, expediting planning and execution procedures. The decision was made while US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs Barbara Leaf was on a visit to Israel and the PA.
"We call on the Israeli government to fulfill the commitments it made in Aqaba in Jordan and Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt – and conduct a dialogue aimed at preventing escalation," the State Department statement went on to say. "We oppose the expansion of settlements and unilateral actions that constitute an obstacle to peace and make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve."
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