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Israel approves first West Bank settler homes since Gulf deals

The approvals came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel, which in return pledged to freeze its plans to annex swathes of the West Bank.

Israel approves first West Bank settler homes since Gulf deals www.theafricanstand.com
NGO Peace Now says Israel’s resumption of settlement expansion across the occupied West Bank deals a blow to hopes of a wider Israeli-Arab peace after normalisation deals with two Gulf states earlier this year AHMAD GHARABLI AFP

Israel approved 2,166 new homes in settlements across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, official figures sent to AFP showed, ending an eight-month lull in settlement expansion.

The approvals came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel, which in return pledged to freeze its plans to annex swathes of the West Bank.

NGO Peace Now says the settlement uptick signals Israel’s rejection of Palestinian statehood and deals a blow to hopes of a wider Israeli-Arab peace.

It said that around 2,000 more homes were expected to be approved on Thursday.

“Netanyahu is moving ahead at full steam toward solidifying the de facto annexation of the West Bank,” it said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s decisions.

Israel approves first West Bank settler homes since Gulf deals www.theafricanstand.com
NGO Peace Now says Israel’s resumption of settlement expansion across the occupied West Bank deals a blow to hopes of a wider Israeli-Arab peace after normalisation deals with two Gulf states earlier this year MENAHEM KAHANA AFP

US President Donald Trump sees the Gulf accords as part of his broader initiative for Middle East peace.

But a controversial plan he unveiled in January gave US blessing to Israeli annexation of large chunks of the West Bank, including the settlements, communities considered illegal under international law.

Israel agreed to delay those plans under its normalisation deal with the UAE, something Emirati officials have cited in response to Arab and Muslim criticism.

The two Gulf countries were only the third and fourth Arab states to normalise relations with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he sees others following.

Wandukwa Henry

Written by Wandukwa Henry

Wandukwa Henry is a graduate from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Computer Science and now he is an African Stand correspondent covering the East African region.

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