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UN Warns Against Israel Relaxing Settlement Procedures

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UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland on Monday warned against changes decided upon by the Israeli government relaxing the procedures to authorise settlements in the occupied West Bank. online news

“I am deeply concerned by the Israeli Government’s decision yesterday to alter settlement planning procedures that have been in place since 1996, which is expected to expedite settlement expansion,” a statement from Wennesland’s office said.

A senior Israeli official told AFP on Sunday the move would reduce the administrative procedures needed to authorise West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

The changes “will cut unnecessary administrative red tape in the construction authorisation process,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

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“A four-step redundant process will become an effective two-step process,” the official added.

Shlomo Neeman, who heads the Yesha Council, an umbrella group representing Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, said the changes would “correct a historic injustice and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in this area”.

Israel’s planning authority meanwhile published on Sunday its agenda for a June 26 meeting, in which it is due to advance plans for the construction of over 4,500 new units in the West Bank.

The US State Department said it was “deeply troubled” by the announcement, and that it was “similarly concerned” by proposed changes to the settlement authorisation process.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The territory is home to around 2.9 million Palestinians, as well as over 500,000 Jewish settlers.


© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.

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