Israeli authorities allocated a huge budget for the protection of Israeli settlement illegally built near Gazan and Lebanese borders, Israeli radio revealed. Head of the Israeli Knesset Committee for affairs in the so-called Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza Strip MK Moti Yogev said that Israeli Army Minister allocated 110 million shekels for the protection of the illegal settlements. Israel has repeatedly come under international criticism over its illegal settlement construction at the expense of Palestinian territories.
On the other hand, Israeli authorities increased settlement building by 40 percent in the first half of 2016, according to data released Wednesday by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), as Israeli human rights watchdog Peace Now responded to the stats by warning of an inevitable “one-state reality.”
In a statement released by Peace Now, the group outlined recent data released by ICBS that details statistics on Israeli housing construction since the start of the year, showing that Israeli authorities had commenced construction on 1,195 units in Israeli settlements across the West Bank, marking a 40 percent increase from the previous six months.
Construction inside of Israel, however, experienced a 3 percent decrease from previous months, according to the data.
“Netanyahu is the prime minister of one sector only — the settler sector, which comprises of less than 5 percent of the Israeli population,” Peace Now said in the statement, adding that “[Netanyahu]’s investments in the settlements do not only come at the expense of the Negev, the Galilee and the rest of Israel but also lead towards a one-state reality.”
At the end of last month, Israel’s Civil Administration approved the advancement of plans for 463 new housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
According to a statement released by Peace Now at the time, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee validated plans for 20 housing units in the settlement of Givat Zeev, and 30 in Bet Arye, while 179 housing units were retroactively approved in Ofarim. The group added that plans for 234 units in the settlement of Elqana were being discussed for depositing.
According to Peace Now, Israel has promoted plans for 2,623 new units in West Bank settlements since the beginning of the year, 756 of which were retroactively legalized construction.
Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have publicly announced their support for plans aimed to annex the entirety of Area C.
While members of the international community rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted farther to the right, as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.