JERUSALEM – Israel has built close to 20,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office a decade ago, NGO Peace Now said on Tuesday.
The Israeli watchdog added that 70 percent of the construction of the 19,346 units was in isolated settlements beyond the proposed Geneva Initiative border, which would jeopardize the viability of a future Palestinian state if a two-state solution was ever to be reached.
“This translates into an addition of 13,608 new families (potentially more than 60,000 settlers) in settlements that Israel will likely have to evacuate as part of a permanent agreement,” a Peace Now report said.
The total number of new settlers since the end of 2008 to the end of 2017 has risen to 120,518.
“Every house built in the settlements and every family that moves there will need to be brought back into Israel in a painful and difficult evacuation,” the NGO said.
“Even if the government does not believe that peace can be achieved in the near future, there is no logic to expanding the settlements and making the solution impossible,” Peace Now added.
The NGO pointed out that at least 11 percent of the Israeli housing units were illegal under the country’s laws, which distinguish between authorized and unauthorized outposts.
Nearly $2.8 billion were transferred “as surplus budgets to the settlements” by the government since 2009, the NGO added.