On June 23, the new Israeli government, which was formed just two weeks before, approved 31 zoning plans, each containing a small number of housing units or facilities, in the occupied West Bank. They will further increase the 600-750,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) who live in around 280 illegal settlements (145 official, 135 unofficial) (Peace Now, retrieved in 2021).
Over half of the plans (18) relate to illegal settlements, such as Alfei Menashe, Elkana, Havat Sde Bar and Yitzhar, and the plan for the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem envisages the construction of 540 housing units. These plans are intended to supplement Israel’s ongoing settlement activities in East Jerusalem, including the demolition orders of 16 Palestinian properties in Silwan (the first of which was implemented) and the expulsion of more Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General and Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, accused Israel of blatantly violating international law and called on it to halt the illegal expansion. They cited UNSCR 2334, which states that settlements have “no legal validity” and are a violation of international law. Wennesland also called for an end to Palestinian displacement and home demolitions and also called on Israel to approve “plans that would enable these communities to build legally and address their development needs” (Al-Jazeera, 2021).