The Israeli government has approved plans for the construction and expansion of yet further illegal settlements, adding 251 new units to the colonies surrounding Bethlehem and seeking to expand their illegal occupation yet further.
The Civil Administration Office has approved two plans to expand the Gush Etzion Bloc, south of Bethlehem, and Kfar Eldad, east of the city. Gush Etzion will receive a further 146 units, with Kfar Eldad receiving 105.
“The committee approved the construction of 146 housing units in the Gush Etzion settlement, south of Bethlehem city, while 105 settlement homes will be built in Kfar Al-dad east of the city”Hassan Bureijia, head of the Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem
Gush Etzion currently consists of 22 settlements and holds a population of 70,000. The area has been one of the centres of Israel’s land seizure program, with the United States rebuking Israel’s seizure of 5000 dunums of land in the area in 2014 alongside the likes of the United Kingdom and European Union.
The majority of the international community considers the Israeli colonisation program to be illegal under international law and a grave threat to both the two-state solution and the future of an independent Palestinian state. The program is seen as a grave violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
“The status of the settlements was clearly inconsistent with Article 3 of the Convention, which, as noted in the Committee’s General Recommendation XIX, prohibited all forms of racial segregation in all countries. There is a consensus among publicists that the prohibition of racial discrimination, irrespective of territories, is an imperative norm of international law.”Professor Theo van Boven
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accused separately of widespread corruption, promised the Israeli electorate that he would begin the process of annexing the illegal colonies in the West Bank should he continue as Prime Minister. The plan has been seemingly endorsed by U.S. President Donald Trump and was seen as a key election pledge prior to Netanyahu’s second election campaign this year.
Despite decades of international condemnation and pressure, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980 and 2016, the apartheid state continues to defy international opinion and the law, continuing their expansion into the occupied territories and piecemeal genocide of both Palestinian people and their culture.