Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit has condemned Israel’s move to approve the construction of around 2,000 new housing units in the settlements of the occupied West Bank.

In comments released on Thursday, Aboul Gheit noted that the resumption of illegal settlement activity comes despite the Israeli government’s claims that it is seeking peace in the region. The approvals remain a formidable obstacle to the implementation of a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said.

“[The] Netanyahu government’s insistence on moving forward with settlement activity to satisfy the extreme right wing reflects its rejection this solution and even its commitment to destroy the chances of achieving it in the future,” Gheit said.

An Israeli Defense Ministry body on Wednesday gave its final approval for 2,166 new homes in the West Bank. However, Tel-Aviv-based settlement watchdog Peace Now said that more than 2,000 additional homes could be approved on Thursday, taking the total number of new units approved in 2020 to over 12,000.

“These approvals make 2020 the highest year on record in terms of units in settlement plans promoted since Peace Now began recording in 2012,” the group said. 

The latest approvals for new Jewish settlements in the West Bank come less than a month after Israel agreed to “suspend” annexation of parts of the disputed territory, envisioned by US President Donald Trump’s administration as part of its plan for Middle East peace, in exchange for normalizing ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

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