Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3000 settlement homes

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi Thursday said Israel is making a mockery of the worldwide community and the global justice system with its recent announcements to construct 3,000 illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.

It is also not clear whether Israel informed Washington about the plans beforehand.

"We have not made the settlements an up-front issue this time", Mustafa said in an interview Monday at his office in Ramallah.

The country director also said the struggle to stop human rights abuses in Palestine should continue unabated to create better living standards for Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech pledging his continued commitment to expanding settlements proves just that.

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Even if Trump can get the two sides back to the negotiating table, the differences between them on core issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees are huge.

Mustafa, 62, chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, the Palestinian Authority's sovereign wealth fund, says rampant unemployment and worldwide donors' failure to provide promised funds are among the forces driving Abbas to the negotiating table.

The Bloomberg report quoted another high-ranking Abbas aide, Mohammad Shtayyeh, as saying that Trump earned Palestinian confidence when he postponed moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel seized the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967.

Throughout former U.S. President Barack Obama's term, Abbas refused to negotiate unless Netanyahu froze construction in some 120 West Bank settlements where more than 400,000 Israelis live.

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On Tuesday, the premier told settlers he would keep building across the West Bank.

There have been various attempts at peace talks but they stopped in 2004. Israel has also maintained an illegal air, sea and land blockade of the Gaza Strip for almost ten years, locking two million people into an area that is one of the most densely-populated territories on Earth.

Successive Israeli governments have invested billions of dollars over the past 50 years on settlements in the occupied West Bank, making any withdrawal from the Palestinian territory a costly proposition. If the Israelis "want to help, we have an agenda to change this economy".

"The two-state solution is the only way to reach an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", Anat Ben Nun emphasized.

Meanwhile, across the West Bank, settlement infrastructure - including "settler-only" roads - have divided Palestinian towns and villages, and have severely limited the ability of Palestinians to move around freely.

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More than 3,000 units have been advanced this week, a spokesman for the NGO that tracks settlement building in the Palestinian territory told AFP.


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