34% increase in illegal Israeli settlement construction in 2016

Monitor

Image of settlement construction work in West Bank on 2 April 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Image of settlement construction work in West Bank on 2 April 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
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There was a 34 per cent increase in illegal Israeli settlement construction during 2016, with Israeli settlers breaking ground on 1,814 new housing units, compared to 1,350 new construction starts in 2015, settlement watchdog Peace Now revealed in a report on Sunday.

Construction was largely focused in isolated settlements and in areas that are highly problematic in terms of a two-state solution

the NGO said, highlighting that nearly 70 per cent of the new housing – 1,263 units – were in areas that lie beyond the proposed 1967 “Green Line” border in the occupied West Bank.

While all settlement construction is considered illegal under international law, at least 10 per cent of the construction – 183 housing units – took place in sites considered illegal under Israeli law, the group said, referring to illegal settlement outposts.

“While in recent years, most of the construction in outposts was done by individuals who initiated the construction of their own houses, in 2016 we saw more organised construction projects in outposts, with massive infrastructure works which requires funding and investment,” Peace Now said.

Such investment must require the active, or at least passive, involvement of the authorities, and the settlement municipal councils in particular.

Peace Now noted that of all illegal settlements, the Efrat settlement in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem district saw the greatest amount of construction starts in 2016, totalling 221 new housing units.

“The settlement of Efrat is considered highly problematic in regards to a two-state solution since it is adjacent to Bethlehem from the south, preventing the city from any future possibilities of development,” Peace Now said, adding that Efrat is located east of Route 60, the only highway that connects the southern West Bank with the northern part of the territory.

“The annexation of Efrat to Israel would thus bloc this highway and will cut the southern parts of the West Bank from its northern parts.”

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‘We will continue and escalate hunger strike,’ insists veteran Palestinian prisoner

Palestinians hold placards during a sit-in in support of Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails, on 21 May, 2017, in the West Bank city of Nablus [Ayman Ameen/Apaimages]

Palestinians hold placards during a sit-in in support of Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails, on 21 May, 2017, in the West Bank city of Nablus [Ayman Ameen/Apaimages]
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The longest-serving Palestinian prisoner held by Israel has insisted that the hunger-strikers will continue and escalate their protest, Arab48 reported yesterday. “This,” said Karim Younis, 60, “is not only for the sake of our demands, but for the sake of our nation.” He has been held by Israel for 34 years.

Younis has been on hunger strike for 38 days and made his comments in a statement passed by his brother, lawyer Tamim Younis, to the National Prisoners’ Movement in Israel. He pointed out that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has proposed the suspension of the strike several times so that talks about the prisoners’ demands may begin. The proposals have been rejected every time, he added.

The veteran inmate insisted that this “battle” is not related to the hunger-strikers alone, but to the “whole nation and its dignity.” He noted that while they may be “weak and pale” they have “the will to overrule their bodies.”

Read:  Israel should talk to hunger strikers before a 3rd intifada erupts

On day 37 of the strike, he explained, the hunger strikers are planning to escalate their measures to challenge Israel’s “arrogance”. This will include an end to drinking salt water. Younis stressed that this move requires a “parallel” action beyond the prison walls.


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