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Tánaiste Simon Coveney condemns proposals for new Israeli settlements as 'very clearly illegal'

The plans were unveiled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night.

Benjamin Netanyahu announces a new neighborhood in the Israeli settlement Har Homa
Benjamin Netanyahu announces a new neighborhood in the Israeli settlement Har Homa
Image: PA Images

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has hit out at an announcement by Israel that it intends to build thousands of new settlements in east Jerusalem.

The plans were unveiled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night, when he revealed he would build thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in the Har Homa and Givat Hamatos communities.

The contentious community was first built in 1997, during a previous Netanyahu government.

Israel seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are also considered illegal by most foreign governments and the United Nations.

But Netanyahu said that he had approved that initial construction “despite objections from the entire world” and estimated that Har Homa’s population would grow from 40,000 to 50,000 when the new units were completed.

The move was criticised this evening by Coveney, who said that all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory is “very clearly illegal” under international law.

“The construction of settlements in the Har Homa and Givat Hamatos areas in east Jerusalem would be a significant step, undermining the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state,” he said.

“I urge the Israeli government to desist from any further steps in relation to these specific settlement plans, and to halt all settlement construction.”

Netanyahu’s announcement came less than two weeks before a general election.

Polls indicate another close race between the prime minister’s right-wing Likud and the centrist Blue and White party, with neither bloc expected to win an outright majority. 

Watchdog Peace Now called the Givat Hamatos project “a severe blow to the two-state solution,” as it would interrupt “territorial continuity between Bethlehem and east Jerusalem.”

- © AFP 2020

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