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What you need to know about Israel’s plan to legalize five West Bank settlements

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Over the decades, successive Israeli governments have continued to build settlements. As of last year, Israeli governments had approved the construction of more than 130 settlements since 1967.

Israel has established more than 100 unauthorized settlements since the 1990s, and Israeli authorities are working to retroactively legalize many of them.

more than 500,000 Israeli settlers Jews now live in the West Bank (not including the more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem) alongside more than 2.7 million Palestinians. Some settlements are home to religious Zionists who consider the area their birthright. Many secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews have also moved there, mostly for cheaper housing.

This year, the Israeli government allocated a record amount of land. About 6,000 acresanother signal that Smotrich intends to deepen Israel’s control over the West Bank.

In March, a UN report showed that “there has been a sharp increase in the intensity, severity and regularity of Israeli settler and state violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in particular since October 7, 2023, which has accelerated the displacement of Palestinians.” Since then, UN human rights chief Volker Türk has condemned the rapid expansion of settlements.

Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Tuesday that there were signs of accelerating legalization of settlements and outposts. Undermining prospects for a two-state solution.

That appears to be the goal of Smotrich, who is a staunch opponent of Palestinian statehood and has said he would approve additional outposts if any country announced recognition of Palestinian statehood.

In the past two months, Spain, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia and Armenia have officially Recognition of an independent Palestinian stateSmotrich said on social media Thursday that the latest settlement legalization is Response to these decisions.

“We will continue to develop settlements to preserve Israel’s security and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state that would threaten our survival,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, head of Israel’s Central Command, which oversees the West Bank, said the crackdown on illegal settlement construction had weakened since Smotrich took office.Even disappeared

Alan Boxman Contributed reporting.

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