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UN chief 'deeply troubled' and 'alarmed' by Israeli settlement expansion plans

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference at the United Nations complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya, May 3, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo)

United Nations Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres is “deeply troubled” by the Israeli government’s recent announcement that it will build approximately 4,000 additional homes for Jewish residents in the West Bank, also known as the Judea and Samaria.

“The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by yesterday’s decision by the Israeli Government to amend settlement planning procedures,” read the official UN statement. “The changes can be expected to expedite the advancement of Israeli settlement plans in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

“He is also deeply alarmed by the anticipated advancement next week of over 4,000 settlement housing units by Israeli planning authorities,” according to the statement.

Most of the international community views all West Bank settlements as “illegal” under international law and an obstacle to the proposed two-state solution.

"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," warned U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel established Jewish communities in recently captured areas of Judea and Samaria, which make up the historical heartland of the Jewish nation. While some of these communities were established for ideological and religious reasons, others were built for purposes of security, particularly true for some Jewish communities that have, in effect, become inseparable parts of the wider Jerusalem metropolitan area.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently gave Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich power to expand Jewish communities in the disputed territories. Israeli and international critics have warned that such a move constitutes a de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank.

However, proponents welcome the move as ending perceived discrimination of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens living in Jewish communities beyond the green line.

“We must stop treating residents of Judea and Samaria as second-class citizens. It’s unthinkable that only residents of Judea and Samaria need approval from the political echelon in order to build a home or a kindergarten,” said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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