22:11 GMT26 January 2020
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    Israeli authorities on Tuesday advanced plans for the construction of 1,500 housing units in the West Bank, including units for the first new official settlement in 25 years. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Anat Ben Nun, director of development and external relations at liberal Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) Peace Now.

    Israeli authorities did not respond to Peace Now’s requests to comment on the plans.

    When asked about the impact the planned construction of additional housing units on the occupied Palestinian lands could have on the stuttering Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Anat Ben Nun said that it means that the Israeli government “has no goodwill or intention to arrive at a negotiated two-state solution.”

    “That’s why I expect this to negatively affect the peace process.”

    The move came shortly after US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel. Anat Ben Nun said that the new US administration’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unclear.

    “Even though [the US has endorsed the construction of more Jewish settlements], many of those in Israel who celebrated his election now see that they are not getting what they hoped for,” he said.

    Since most countries see the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in the West bank as illegal, Anat Ben Nun said he expected a great deal of international condemnation of the Israeli decision to build more housing there.

    Amnesty International has called for an international ban on the import of goods produced at illegal Jewish settlements.

    Speaking about the likelihood of some kind of sanctions to be imposed on Israel, Anat Ben Nun said that even though he doesn’t think that sanctions are easy to implement, he still believes that some external pressure is necessary.

    “The EU already has a policy of differentiating between goods from Israel proper and from [Jewish] settlements. And we would like more implementation of that.”

    When asked about the future of the Israeli settlement construction and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Anat Ben Nun said that if this settlement construction on occupied Arab lands continues, it would put the future of a “viable Palestinian state” along the Israeli border on the line.

    “That said, the situation on the ground still allows for the creation of a two-state solution physically to happen. We will advocate a two-state solution,” he continued.

    He said that even though any final solution to the problem can hardly be expected now, the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank would prevent such a solution in the future.

    “The two-state solution is the only way to reach an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Anat Ben Nun emphasized.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier pledged to build a new settlement for around 40 families of a wildcat Jewish outpost in the West Bank.

    This settlement known as Amona was evacuated under court order in February. Promotion of the new settlement comes as Israelis and Palestinians marked the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council voted 14-0, with the United States abstaining, to pass a resolution calling on Israel to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the areas.

    However, in January, Israeli authorities approved the construction of thousands of new housing units in the occupied West Bank despite the resolution.


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    two-state solution, conflict, Palestinian territories, Jewish settlements, UN Security Council, European Union, Peace Now NGO, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Anat Ben Nun, West Bank, Israel
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