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United Nations

‘The Secretary-General reiterates that settlements are a flagrant violation of international law. They are a major obstacle to the realization of a viable two-State solution.’

By Ben Rappaport, United with Israel

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is “deeply troubled” by the Israeli announcement of changes in its process for approving construction in Judea and Samaria, and is “deeply alarmed” by its plans to approve over 4,500 new housing units throughout the region.

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet adopted a resolution which reduces the number of preliminary steps that must be approved by senior government officials before permits to build in Judea and Samaria communities can be received.

The cabinet also gave most of the authority to approve such construction to Finance Minister and Minister in the Defense Ministry Bezalel Smotrich.

At the same time, it was announced that the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee would convene on June 26 to approve 4,560 new housing units across Judea and Samaria.

A spokesperson for Guterres on Monday said that “The Secretary-General reiterates that settlements are a flagrant violation of international law. They are a major obstacle to the realization of a viable two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

“The expansion of these illegal settlements is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs. It further entrenches Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, encroaches on Palestinian land and natural resources, hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population, and undermines the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and sovereignty,” the spokesperson added.

“The Secretary-General urges the Government of Israel to halt and reverse such decisions and to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to fully respect its legal obligations in that regard. He further calls for concrete steps to be taken to implement the commitments made in the Joint Communiqués in Aqaba, Jordan and Sharm al-Sheik, Egypt, respectively,” the spokesperson concluded.

The Secretary General’s sentiments echoed those of the US Department on Sunday. Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said “The United States is deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s reported decision to advance planning for over 4,000 settlement units in the West Bank.”

“We are similarly concerned by reports of changes to Israel’s system of settlement administration that expedite the planning and approvals of settlement,” he added.

“As has been longstanding policy, the United States opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace. We call on the Government of Israel to fulfill the commitments it made in Aqaba, Jordan and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and return to dialogue aimed at de-escalation,” he concluded.

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