The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has begun building thousands of new settlement homes in the occupied West bank on Tuesday, a move that will see the establishment of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers.
The move follows the United Nations Security Council resolution on the settlements in December, which urged Israel to immediately halt construction of more than 10,000 homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as settlements in the Gaza Strip.
The United States, France, and Germany have also called on Israel to stop settlement construction, and the European Union has called on Israeli authorities to halt settlement building.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday’s announcement is a “historic step toward peace,” but also a “step toward the building of new settlements,” adding that the Israeli government has the right to decide what happens to the existing structures.
The settlement of Bet El in the West Silwan region, for example, has been in dispute for decades between the local Palestinian population and Israel’s authorities.
It is not clear how many new homes will be built in the area.
The first settler homes will likely be built next month, but there is still no timeframe for when they will be finished.
Israel has announced a series of measures aimed at building more homes in settlements, including an extension of its control over a vast stretch of land that was once part of the occupied territories.
It has also increased the number of Jewish settlers it plans to build on the occupied East Bank and in the Jordan Valley.
But in the last week, the Israeli army and police have clashed with Palestinian protesters, and Palestinians have clashed violently with Israeli forces in several towns and cities.
On Sunday, Israel’s parliament passed a bill that calls for building 1,500 new homes in new settlement neighborhoods, including 1,000 in East Silwan.
The bill also expands the number and types of homes that Israeli authorities can demolish to accommodate a new wave of construction.
In recent weeks, the United States has also called for Israel to halt construction in settlements in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories, saying that it will not tolerate settlement construction in those areas.
Israeli officials have said that they will continue to build the settlements despite the U.N. Security Council’s recommendation.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, have criticized Israel’s decision to build in the disputed West Bank.
They have called it a “flagrant violation of international law” and “a blatant breach of international norms,” calling it an “apartheid wall.”