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Israel speeds up authorisation of 1,000 new homes in occupied West Bank settlement

While no timetable was provided, Israeli leaders 'agreed to move ahead immediately' with the planning
A picture taken from the Palestinian West Bank village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya shows the illegal settlement of Eli, on 16 January 2017 (AFP)

Israel plans to authorise 1,000 new homes for the Eli settlement in the occupied West Bank in response to the shooting that killed four Israeli settlers on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich “agreed to move ahead immediately” with the planning. No further timetable was provided. 

“Our response to terror is to hit it hard and build in our land,” a statement from their meeting said. 

It is unclear if the 1,000 units are from the 4,560 already proposed across the occupied West Bank or if they are entirely separate. The Jerusalem Post reported that the units are separate from the previously proposed ones. 

The United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres said previously that proposed settlements would further diminish efforts to create a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. 

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"Settlements are a flagrant violation of international law," Guterres said on Monday.

"The expansion of these illegal settlements is a significant driver of tensions and violence and deepens humanitarian needs."

On Tuesday, four Israeli settlers were killed in a shooting in the occupied West Bank, and four others were left wounded.

The Magen David Adom emergency services said the shooting took place near the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli in the central West Bank.

Two gunmen were identified by Palestinian media as Muhannad Faleh Shehadeh and Khaled Mustafa Sabah, both of whom are from the village of Orif, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

On Wednesday, Israel killed three Palestinians in a drone strike in the occupied West Bank, the first aerial attack in the occupied West Bank in over a decade.

Illegal Israeli settlements 

A new resolution gives practically all control over planning approval in the West Bank to Smotrich, who is himself a settler and a fierce proponent of settlement expansion.

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Israeli plans to expand illegal settlements
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The decision, which takes immediate effect, speeds up the process of expanding West Bank settlements and retroactively legalises settlements under Israeli law.

All Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders are illegal under international law.

On Sunday, the US State Department said that it was "deeply troubled" by Israeli moves aimed at expanding settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Washington branded the Israeli move as an "obstacle to peace".

"As has been long-standing policy, the US opposes such unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve and are an obstacle to peace," the statement continued.

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