World, Middle East

14,000 settlement units planned for Jerusalem: Minister

Half of them to be built in city’s occupied half, according to Israel’s housing minister

Ali Murat Alhas   | 08.12.2017
14,000 settlement units planned for Jerusalem: Minister Constructions of the Israeli settlement Ramot continue over the Palestinian lands in Jerusalem, on November 22, 2017. ( Mahmoud Ibrahim - Anadolu Agency )

Quds

JERUSALEM

Israel is planning to build 14,000 new settlement units in Jerusalem, half of which will be built in occupied East Jerusalem, Yoav Galant, Israeli housing and construction minister, said Friday.

“In response to the historic decision of President Trump, I decided that new settlements will be constructed in Jerusalem," Israeli daily Maariv quoted Galant as saying in reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision -- announced Wednesday -- to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to the housing minister, 14,000 settlement units will be built in the city, 7,000 of which are to be built in occupied East Jerusalem.

Currently, roughly half a million Jewish settlers reside in the West Bank, with another 220,000 in East Jerusalem, both of which have remained under Israeli occupation since 1967.

Israel, for its part, hopes to raise the number of West Bank settlers to an even million.

50-year occupation

Israel occupied East Jerusalem on June 5, 1967, before unilaterally annexing the entire city as its "undivided and eternal capital" in 1980.

At the time, the UN Security Council condemned the move in the "strongest terms", calling on member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem in line with UNSC Resolution 478 (1980).

The same resolution explicitly described East Jerusalem as being “under occupation”.

Until now, countries that have relations with Israel maintain diplomatic missions in the city of Tel Aviv.

On Wednesday, despite widespread opposition across the Middle East, the U.S. president announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to Trump, the U.S. State Department has already begun preparations for the relocation of Washington’s Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The dramatic shift in U.S. policy has sparked demonstrations on Thursday in the occupied Palestinian territories, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq and in some other Muslim countries.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

During his electoral campaign last year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and acknowledge Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital.

In April, Moscow announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, going on to voice hope that the city’s eastern half might eventually come to serve as the Palestinian capital.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara

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