“The existence and expansion of settlements fuel resentment and hopelessness among the Palestinian population [...]," the UN chief said.
The United Nations Middle East special coordinator Nickolay Mladenov said Wednesday that Israel has been advancing with its plans to build more than 22,000 homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since a UN resolution, dubbed resolution 2334, reasserted their illegality in December 2016.
“In the three years since the Security Council resolution 2334 was adopted, plans for over 22,000 units have been advanced or approved in West Bank settlements, including in East Jerusalem,” Mladenov said.
“Tenders for some 8,000 units have been issued. These numbers should be of serious concern to all those who continue to support the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel,” the envoy added during his report to the UN Security Council on the implementation of the resolution.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a report published Wednesday that Israeli settlement expansion plans “must cease immediately and completely”.
“The existence and expansion of settlements fuel resentment and hopelessness among the Palestinian population and significantly heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions,” Guterres said.
The UN chief added that the United States’ decision in November to no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal was “inconsistent with international law”.
Resolution 2334 was adopted in 2016 in the last days of then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration before Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
It directly addresses the issue of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories illegally occupied since 1967, and states that Israel’s settlement activity is a “flagrant violation” of international law and has no “legal validity.”
It was the first resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC), to face the problem of Israeli settlements with a similar specificity since the resolution 465 in 1980.
Resolution 2334 demanded that Israel ends its settlement activities and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In an unusual move, the U.S. had abstained from voting on the resolution.
The Trump administration, however, has made clear that it rejects it.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council Kelly Craft said Wednesday the resolution was “one-sided” and “unfairly critical of Israel”.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, meanwhile, said: “Two words can summarize the reality for Palestinians: ‘confinement’ in Gaza and the West Bank and ‘expansion’ for Israeli settlements.
“The purpose of this policy is crystal clear: acquiring maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians,” Mansour said.