TEHRAN (FNA)- Israel says it will press ahead with its settlement expansion plan in the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) despite growing international criticism.
“We will continue to build and develop (the settlement construction projects in al-Quds) without apologizing for it,” said Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s minister of military affairs, dismissing the international criticism over the move, press tv reported.
The city’s mayor Nir Barkat also said that the construction plans in the occupied Palestinian territories will continue “with full force.”
Israel has come under mounting global pressure after the Israeli NGO, Peace Now, revealed a plan under which more than 26,000 settler units are going to be built in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood of East al-Quds.
The United States, the European Union as well as rights groups have condemned Israel, urging it to stop its settlement expansion projects on Palestinian land.
Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi has also slammed the plan to build more settler units, saying Israel was more interested in “stealing land than making peace.”
More than half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds in 1967.
The Israeli settlements are considered to be illegal by the United Nations and most countries because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are thus subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
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