UN: Israel has advanced 22,000 housing units in West Bank

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The UN Mideast envoy said Wednesday that Israel advanced or approved plans for over 22,000 housing units in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem in the three years since the Security Council adopted a resolution condemning settlements in lands the Palestinians want for their future state.

Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council that in addition, Israel issued tenders for some 8,000 housing units since the December 2016 resolution, which also declared that the settlements have “no legal validity.”

He said the numbers “should be of serious concern to all those who continue to support the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council circulated Wednesday that the settlements have “no legal effect.”

He declared that construction and approvals “must cease immediately and completely.”

“The existence and expansion of settlements fuel resentment and hopelessness among the Palestinian population and significantly heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions,” the UN chief said.

“In addition, they continue to undermine the prospects for ending the (Israeli) occupation and achieving the two-state solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state,” he added.

Guterres said he regrets the Trump administration’s announcement on November 18 that it no longer views “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank” as “per se, inconsistent with international law.”

Mladenov was reporting to the council on implementation of the 2016 resolution.

The resolution was approved by the council when the United States, in the final weeks of the Obama administration, abstained rather than using its veto to support longtime ally Israel as it had done many times previously.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft told the council that she would have vetoed the resolution, which the Trump administration opposes.

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