19:13 GMT +315 December 2019
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    A picture taken on November 17, 2016 shows a general view of houses in the settlement of Ofra in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, established in the vicinity of the Palestinian village of Baytin (background)

    New Israeli Settlements in West Bank 'Only Show UN's Inaptitude' to Act

    © AFP 2019 / THOMAS COEX
    Middle East
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    Israel announced that it will go ahead with its illegal construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, condemning the UN resolution. Brendan Browne, Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin in Belfast considers it as yet another example of Israel being in complete breach of the law, and of the UN's inability to do anything about it.

    Since the 1967 Middle East war, and in the face of international condemnation, Israel has continued with a program of steady expansionism, establishing large settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

    An estimated six hundred thousand Israelis currently live in these illegal settlements in homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and now the Israeli Government has confirmed it will build a further two thousand, five hundred dwellings just weeks after a fresh UN Security Council resolution decried Israel for its "flagrant violation" of international law by pursuing the policy.

    The announcement came on Sunday, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the members of his inner security cabinet that he decided to lift all restrictions on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

    "There is no longer a need to coordinate construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. We can build where we want and as much as we want," the statement quoted Netanyahu as saying, adding that he also intended to allow building to commence in the West Bank.

    Meanwhile the housing projects approved by the Jerusalem municipality on Sunday are on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state and had been taken off the agenda in December at Netanyahu's request to avoid further censure from Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

    Palestinian protestors stand facing the Israeli settlement of Qadumim (Kedumim) during clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on December 30, 2016
    Palestinian protestors stand facing the Israeli settlement of Qadumim (Kedumim) during clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on December 30, 2016

    The Palestinians denounced the move.

    "We strongly condemn the Israeli decision to approve the construction," Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.

    Earlier in December, the US allowed the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. The resolution called for Israel to "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem."

    Sputnik Radio’s Mark Hirst discussed whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an ulterior motive behind this latest announcement with Brendan Browne, Assistant Professor, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Trinity College Dublin in Belfast.

    "The first thing is to say that these settlements, these houses are completely illegal under the international law and this is a further example of Israel being in complete breach of its commitments to uphold the international law and the UN's inaptitude when it comes to holding Israel accountable," he told Radio Sputnik.

    However the UN's inaptitude, he further said, is not entirely surprising. Anybody with any knowledge of the region's history will know that the UN has been reluctant to hold Israel accountable for its continued and flagrant breaches of the international law. The latest actions only go to show that the international law has not really been applied properly, something which the international community fully recognizes.

    Brendan Browne also commented on the so-called two-state solution, an idea which has been held for a long time by the international community as the only realistic way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its basis is two separate states, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side by side on the land between the western bank of the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea.

    The boundary between the two states is still subject to dispute and negotiation, with Palestinian and Arab leadership insisting on the "1967 borders," which is not acceptable to Israel.

    Any notion of a two-state solution has been long dead, Browne told Sputnik. Long after signing the Oslo Accord back in 1993, the two-state solution has been discredited by the actions of the Israeli government. Any idea that this solution is viable is just a western misinterpretation of how to solve this conflict. Meanwhile, expanding settlements has made the two-state solution completely nonsensical, he said.

    Commenting on recent reports that the US is in the midst of talks regarding its embassy's possible move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Brendan Browne said that the decision to move the embassy is highly significant. Not least because of its strategy and policy in the region, but because it also goes against accepted international views that East Jerusalem is the future Palestinian capital. Hence the decision to move the embassy would be extremely damaging, regardless whether or not it serves as a trigger for a new round of violence.

    "This will not be looked upon favorably by the Palestinians. It is irrational, it is rash and it is dangerous by the US government," he stated.

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