The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has ordered the construction of thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories in a move widely regarded as a retaliation for the United Nation's vote to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday.
The proposed construction expands existing West Bank settlements with 3,000 more homes for Jews in occupied east Jerusalem as well as plans to link Jerusalem with Jewish settlement Ma'aleh Adumim with settlement blocs along the E1 corridor, Reuters said.
Construction along the E1 (or East 1) largely divides the northern and southern West Bank which, the Guardian reports, is "a move that would cut deep into a future Palestinian state based on 1967 borders."
Adam Horowitz, editor at Mondoweiss, notes that Friday's announcement to build in the E1 corridor "is especially meaningful, because many see this stretch of land as the last hope for a contiguous Palestinian state under a two-state solution."
The US and Europe have long asked the Israeli government not to build there.
Netanyahu's order comes one day after an overwhelming majority of the UN's general assembly member states voted to approve Palestine's 'observer-state' status, despite strong objections from both the United States and Israel.
On his blog, Mondoweiss, Horowitz amassed reactions to the prime minister's announcement.
Diana Buttu, former legal advisor to President Abbas and Palestinian negotiators and former PLO spokesperson:
‘Israel's announcement that it plans to colonize the E-1 area was expected. Israel has always punished Palestinians for demanding their rights. This time, however, Israel's plans are also taking aim at the Europeans and the US, who for over a decade have pressed Israel not to colonize this land because it will mark the "death of the two-state solution." With Israel's latest announcement, the ball rests with the international community. Will it sanction Israel in an attempt to save the two-state solution, or will it revert to its usual lip service?’
Ali Abuminah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada:
‘Yesterday, amid great fanfare, the UN General Assembly voted to admit "Palestine" as a non-member state. Today, Israel announced its intention to build thousands more settler housing units on the territory of this supposed state. What now will be the international response in the wake of yesterday's vote? Will there be real, concrete action -- including sanctions -- to force Israel to halt, and begin to reverse its illegal colonization of the 1967 occupied territories?
‘Sadly, that is unlikely, which means that yesterday's vote was nothing more than a hollow gesture. Israel's announcement should draw attention back to cold, hard reality: there is no "two-state solution." There is one geopolitical entity in historic Palestine. Israel must not be allowed to continue to entrench its apartheid, racist and colonial rule throughout that land.’
Daniel Levy, former Israeli peace negotiator:
'Yesterday at the United Nations the Palestinian leadership endorsed a two-state outcome. Today in its settlement decision on the E-1 corridor, the Israeli Government endorsed a one-state outcome. Israel's American sponsors might want to inquire as to whether the one-state outcome Israel's leaders have in mind is democratic or "apartheidist" in its orientation.
'President Obama began his first term by calling for a full settlement freeze. The consensus in Washington is that this was a mistaken move by the new President. It was not. The mistakes began when Obama blinked first, refused to apply the huge leverage at America's disposal, and never got the freeze. He has been stared down by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu ever since. If President Obama is not up to trying again, this time with muscle, then the conversation to start having with Israel's leader should be about democracy rather than separation.'