Israel approves over 1,000 illegal homes in occupied West Bank

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Israeli authorities have approved more than 1,100 new illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the Peace Now NGO said on Thursday, the latest in a raft of such moves in recent months.

The approvals were given on Wednesday by an Israeli committee on illegal settlement construction.

Some 352 of the homes received final approval, while the others are at an earlier stage in the process, Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, which monitors settlement building, said.

A total of 1,122 housing units were advanced, including seven already existing homes given retroactive approval.

According to Ofran, the majority of the approvals are for settlements deep in the occupied West Bank that Israel would likely need to evacuate as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s a part of the general trend that the government is doing, which is to build all over the West Bank, even more in places that Israel would need to evict, and in this way to torpedo the possibility for a two-state solution.” she said.

According to Peace Now, 6,742 housing projects were approved in the settlements last year, the highest figure since 2013.

Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Prominent members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government openly oppose Palestinian statehood.

Israel faced sharp criticism from the administration of former US president Barack Obama over illegal settlement construction, but that has not been the case with US President Donald Trump’s White House and Israeli officials have sought to take advantage of his backing.

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