Next week, The UN Security Council will vote on a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activity immediately. Although the Biden Administration said it was “deeply dismayed” by Israel’s actions and maintained a “firm opposition to the settlement expansion,” unconfirmed reports indicate that President Biden will order yet another veto – shielding Israel from international accountability.
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On February 13, 2023, the Israeli Security Cabinet retroactively legalized nine illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, announcing the building of 10,000 additional housing units on Palestinian land. The announcement is the largest plan of additional settlements ever.
According to international humanitarian law, Israel’s practice of settling its citizens in Palestinian territory is illegal and violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This article prohibits the deportation or transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into the territory it occupies and also bans the individual or mass forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons from the occupied territory.
The Biden Administration criticized the new Israeli plans to build thousands of homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator, also said his team was “deeply concerned” regarding the settlement decision in Israel during a White House press briefing on Monday afternoon. However, there was no indication provided that the Biden Administration planned to take any action in response to the announcement.
Since 1967, Israel has built tens of thousands of homes for settlers on Palestinian land while demolishing around 50,000 Palestinian homes and other structures. Amnesty International reports that the Israeli authorities have established a discriminatory urban planning and zoning system to enforce this practice. In Area C, where most settlement construction occurs, Israel has allotted 70% of the land to settlements and only 1% to Palestinians. In East Jerusalem, Israel has taken over 35% of the city for settlement construction while restricting Palestinians to only 13% of the land.