Peace Now said Prime Minister Netanyahu announced settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as he faced the March elections.
Israel has put out a tender for 2,500 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, a watchdog said on Wednesday, on the eve of Joe Biden’s swearing-in as US president.
Israel on Sunday approved 780 new settler homes in the West Bank ahead of the March elections, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to face a fierce challenge from right-wing and pro-settler candidate Gideon Saar.
Peace Now said the government has now issued tenders for an additional 2,112 units in the occupied West Bank and 460 in occupied East Jerusalem, the eastern part of the city annexed by Israel but which the Palestinian Authority hopes to make. capital of a future state.
The watchdog accused the government of a “mad race to promote as much settlement activity as possible until the last few minutes before the change of administration in Washington.”
“In doing so, Netanyahu signals to the new president that he does not intend to give the new chapter in US-Israel relations even for a day of grace, nor to seriously consider how to resolve plausibly our conflict with the Palestinians, ”he said. in a report.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman condemned the decision to build new settlement units and said the Israeli government is rushing against the clock to eliminate what remains of any possibility of a solution two-state.
“The pursuit of Netanyahu’s government with its settlement policy and the theft of Palestinian land – with the support and bias of the current US administration – will not bring security or stability,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement. .
All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law and by much of the international community.
But the Trump administration, breaking away from decades of US policy, said in late 2019 that Washington no longer viewed the settlements as a violation of international law.
Biden has indicated that his administration will restore Washington’s pre-Trump policy of opposing settlement expansion.
But on Tuesday, his candidate for secretary of state said the new administration would not reverse Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“The only way to secure Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state and give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution,” said Antony Blinken.
Beyond the change in Washington, DC, experts say Netanyahu also has domestic political reasons for pushing settlement expansion.
Voting is intensifying ahead of the March 23 polls in Israel, in which Netanyahu is expected to face a challenge from right-wing candidate Gideon Saar, a defector from the prime minister’s right-wing Likud party.
Saar, a prominent pro-colonial voice, split from Likud late last year to challenge Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967 and has increasingly expanded the size and number of settlements there, notably under Netanyahu’s leadership since 2009.
There are currently some 450,000 Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank amid an estimated 2.8 million Palestinians.
In occupied East Jerusalem, some 200,000 Jewish settlers live on Palestinian land in 12 settlements.
Governments around the world widely view the settlements as an obstacle to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.