UN urges Israel to ‘immediately’ halt settlement expansion

The UN's Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, says he is ‘deeply troubled’ by Israel’s plan to expand illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

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On Thursday, the United Nations accused Israel of being blatantly acting against international law by mounting settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, urging the country’s new government for stopping their expansion immediately.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN’s Envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland both stated that the use of a 2016 Security Council resolution declaring settlements to have “no legal validity” was not justified. The global body demanded a halt to the settlement expansion, which jeopardizes the likelihood of a future Palestinian state.

Wennesland stated, while updating the council on Guterres’ 12-page report, that he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s approval of a plan to add 540 housing units to the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem, as well as the establishment of settlement outposts. The envoy called the actions “illegal, even under Israeli law.”

“I again underscore, in no uncertain terms, that Israeli settlements constitute a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions and international law,” the UN envoy said.

“They are a major obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The advancement of all settlement activities must cease immediately,” Wennesland said.

The statement comes amid developments related to the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem. The evictions were partially the cause of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in May.

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