The Nof Tzion settlement in Jabal Mukkaber will become the largest in the illegally occupied sector of the city when it is completed.

Construction workers in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem have begun work on the expansion of the Nof Tzion settlement, which when completed will make it the largest illegal settlement in what is internationally recognised as the Palestinian part of the city.

The report by Haaretz said the area is currently home to 96 Jewish families who live in two compounds on the site. The settlement is currently surrounded on all sides of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukkaber.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Palestinian businessman Bashar al Masri had tried to buy the land in order to prevent the construction of the settlement, sparking a 10-year-long legal challenge.

The battle was eventually won by an Israeli businessman who secured permission to build 176 apartments with hundreds more expected to be approved at a later date.

Illegal expansions

Israel captured East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank during the Arab defeat of 1967 called the ‘Six Day War’. The state has occupied the territories ever since, and with the exception of Gaza, from which it withdrew in 2005, the Israelis have maintained and expanded settlements, in violation of international law.

For decades during their occupation of Palestinian land, Israel’s settlements were not recognised by even its most ardent allies in Europe and the US. The election of US President Donald Trump, however, in 2016 changed that dynamic dramatically.

One of Trump’s first foreign policy moves was to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Israel’s claim to the city as a whole, as its capital. That means that the US has effectively acknowledged Israel’s annexation of Palestinian land.

The Trump administration has also made clear that it has no objection to Israel’s policy of expanding settlements.

Earlier in November, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer viewed Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory as a violation of international law.

Source: TRT World