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    Houses are seen atop a hill in the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev, in the occupied West Bank February 7, 2017

    Israel Reportedly Steps Up Settlement Construction Activities in West Bank

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    The Palestinian Foreign Ministry earlier slammed the plan to expand Israeli settlements and called for international institutions to confront the move.

    Israel has intensified the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

    According to the report, 15 new settlement housing units as well as new roads are planned to be built in the area, to the west, south and east of the Ahia settlement in the Palestinian village of Jalud. More agricultural lands are reportedly being bulldozed in the area to clear the construction site.

    Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian official in charge of monitoring the Israeli settlement policy in the northern part of the West Bank, told Ma'an that the new settlement expansion in Ahia included the bulldozing of lands and the construction of infrastructure in the settlement of Amihai, 1 kilometer to the southwest of Ahia.

    According to Israel’s Channel 10, the plan is part of the so-called "Greater Jerusalem" legislation, which was proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. The bill would put some settlements in the West Bank, built on land that the Palestinians seek for a future state, and viewed as illegal by many nations, under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem’s municipality.

    READ MORE: Israelis Arrest 29 Palestinians During Raids in West Bank, Gaza — Reports

    The plan also presumes the construction of up to 300,000 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.

    On Sunday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the plan, calling US President Donald Trump responsible.

    "The ministry affirms that this Israeli colonial arrogance would not have happened without US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital," the ministry said in a Facebook statement. "Trump’s administration must bear the responsibility for new crimes that Israel … imposes on our people."

    On December 6, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced preparations for the transfer of the US Embassy to the city, in a move that has provoked clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces and also drawn international criticism, in particularly for its expected negative impact on the peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine.

    The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has also called on the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to confront the expansion of Israeli settlements.

    The international community has criticized the Israeli settlement policy, including as a major obstacle for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    READ MORE: Jewish Settlements Impede Solution of Arab-Israeli Conflict — Journalist

    In May 2017, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a report claiming that the biggest obstacle to meeting the "humanitarian needs" of the Palestinians is Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the report, the number of Palestinians displaced by home demolitions reached a new high of 1,600 in 2016.

    About 600,000 Israelis currently live in over 230 settlements built on Palestinian territories, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.
    On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling Israel’s settlement activity a violation of international law and calling on Israel to end such activities.

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    Israeli settlements, Palestine, Israel, West Bank
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