6:44 am

The UN has condemned Israel’s plans to build more settlements in the occupied areas in the West Bank. Palestinian officials have said the project undermines hopes for peace, since new housing will be built in the territory where they want to establish their future state.

A UN spokesman said that “unilateral actions” are an obstacle to achieving peace based on a two-state solution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would build 2,500 additional houses in Hebrew colonies as “a response to housing needs.”

It is the second such announcement by the Israeli authorities after the official inauguration of the American president Donald Trump.

Palestinian officials said that these plans undermine hopes for peace, as new housing will be built on territory which they want for a future state.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said: “The Secretary General has no Plan B for the solution with two states.”

“In this respect, any unilateral decision which can be an obstacle to the objective of concluding peace, is a source of great concern for the Secretary General.

“There is need for the two sides to engage in fair negotiations to achieve the goal of creating two states – Israel and Palestine, two states for two nations.”

Trump indicated that it would be more lenient in terms of the raising of Hebrew colonies in the occupied territories than was his predecessor, Barack Obama, and named a strong supporter of the colonies as US ambassador to Israel.

Last month, Trump criticized Obama for refusing to use the veto to block the United Nations Security Council’s resolution, which called on Israel to immediately suspend settlement activities and warned that they jeopardize the viability of a two-state solution .

About 500,000 hebrews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Most of the new housing approved Tuesday will be built in existing settlements in the West Bank, including 902 homes in Ariel and 652 in Givat Zeev.

One hundred homes will be built in Beit El, a settlement raised near Ramallah, who apparently received funding from a foundation run by the family of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and Trump’s senior adviser.

After the announcement, Netanyahu said on Twitter: “we are building – and we will continue to build.”

Netanyahu said he still supports a two-state solution, but on Sunday told his ministers that he lifted restrictions on building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the city government has approved permits for 566 new homes in Pisgat Zeev, Ramot and Ramat Shlomo settlements.

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