More than 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem [File: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]
UN Secretary-General urged Israel to halt settlement expansion, saying it undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the decision of the Israeli authorities to advance plans for some 800 settlement units, most of which are located deep inside the occupied West Bank.
The Secretary-General reiterated that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.
Settlement expansion increases the risk of confrontation, further undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and further erodes the possibility of ending the occupation and establishing a contiguous and viable sovereign Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 lines, he added.
The Secretary-General urged the Government of Israel to halt and reverse such decisions, which he said are a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
The international community widely considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal on one of two bases: that they are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, or that they are in breach of international declarations.
Numerous UN resolutions and prevailing international opinion hold that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are a violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980, and 2016. UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and calls upon Israel to desist from transferring its own population into the territories or changing their demographic makeup.