Israel plans to allocate some 1,200 dunums of West Bank land for a new Jewish-only settlement neighborhood, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
In a statement, the ministry called on the international community to urgently intervene with a view to stopping the “dangerous” settlement project planned near Bethlehem.
“The Israeli government is racing against time to create new facts on the ground that cannot be undone,” the statement read.
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli daily Haaretz confirmed that Israel was planning to build a major settlement neighborhood in the occupied West Bank.
According to the newspaper, the government has allocated 1,200 dunums of land (roughly 300 acres) for the new neighborhood, which would expand the Jewish-only Efrat settlement toward Bethlehem’s southern outskirts.
If built, the planned neighborhood would leave the city entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements.
According to Palestinian figures, 640,000 Jewish settlers currently live on 196 settlements (built with the Israeli government’s permission) and more than 200 settler “outposts” (built without its permission) across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as Israel’s “eternal an undivided capital” in a move never recognized by the international community.
International law views the entire West Bank as “occupied territory” and considers all Israeli settlement building there to be illegal.