Israel: New right-wing government announces top priority is Jewish settlement expansion in West Bank
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – In a move that will be widely condemned, Israel’s new right-wing coalition government announced Wednesday that its top priority is to expand Jewish settlements in the disputed areas of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem, DW reports.
Taken over by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, proprietorship and settlement of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem remain the subject of intense and violent dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Jews already live in settler communities in these areas, in defiance of international opinion that the settlements are illegal while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.
In a statement Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party announced: “The government will advance and develop settlement in all parts of Israel — in the Galilee, the Negev Desert, the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” DW reports.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, will manage the planned expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Smotrich said in a recent statement that the expansion “doesn’t entail changing [the settlements’] political or legal status.”
International condemnation of Israel’s announcement has already begun, with Germany’s government stating that “the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem is increasingly jeopardizing the territorial basis for a future Palestinian state,” DW reports. In a separate statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Associated Press there is no prospect for “peace, security or stability in the region” without a negotiated two-state solution.