Coveney 'condemns' Israeli decision to expand West Bank settlements

He has called on Israel to stop its "relentless expansion"

Coveney 'condemns' Israeli decision to expand West Bank settlements

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem in July 2017 | Image: Department of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has condemned a decision by Israel to expand settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities have approved plans for the construction of several thousand housing units in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory.

This includes sensitive areas like East Jerusalem and the city of Hebron.

This is the first time settlement construction has been approved in Hebron since 2002.

Speaking about the decisions, Minister Coveney says: "I condemn decisions this week by the Israeli authorities approving the construction of thousands of housing units in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"This week's announcements include construction in areas such as Hebron, which are far from the 1967 border, and which could never be included in any possible agreed land swap between the parties.

"The relentless expansion of settlements, especially in such sensitive areas, break up the land area on which a Palestinian state is to be established."

Minister Coveney adds: "I am also deeply concerned about announcements of construction in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem, and by the on going dispossession and eviction of Palestinian residents, to make way for illegal settlement activity.

"Such unilateral and provocative actions undermine the credibility of the Israeli authorities’ commitment to a peaceful, negotiated solution, something which is essential for Israel to secure its future, and for Palestinians to enjoy their full political rights."

He has called on Israel to reverse these decisions, which he says "represent a serious threat to the two state solution to which Ireland, the EU, and the international community, are fully committed".

Earlier this week, the European Union said the settlement plans were "detrimental" to peace talks.

While other countries like France and Germany have also hit out at the move in separate statements.