UN Blasts New Israeli Settlement: 'There's No Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians'

Palestinians says decision to build new settlement in West Bank exposes 'systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.'

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli man wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, prays near a home in the early morning, in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016.
FILE PHOTO: An Israeli man wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, prays near a home in the early morning, in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

The United Nations, Palestinians and pro-peace groups blasted Israel on Friday for its decision to establish a new settlement in the West Bank, the first time in 20 years Israel has officially done so.

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In a statement, the UN's chief, Antonio Guterres, expressed "disappointment and alarm" at Israel's announcement, saying it was an "obstacle to peace."

"There is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians," he said, adding that the UN condemns the "unilateral" move by Israel which he said "threatens peace and undermines the two-state solution."

Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian leader, also blasted the move as proof of what she called Israel's "systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, showing a total and blatant disregard for Palestinian human rights."

"Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace," Ashrawi said.

>>U.S. senator slams decision to build new settlement: 'Netanyahu not serious about two states'>>

The pro-peace watchdog Peace Now says the new settlement's location will continue to fragment the West Bank and hinder the viability of a continuous Palestinian state.

It also criticized the prime minister's motives, saying "Netanyahu is held captive by the settlers, and chooses his political survival over the interest of the state of Israel.

Since news of the new settlement broke, Israel announced a change in policy as part of a gesture of "good will" to President Trump, according to which it would restrict settlement construction to building within existing settlement, or in lands directly adjacent to them.

Israel's umbrella organization for settlers, the Yesha Council, responded to the new policy, but did not attack the decision. "In wake of the decision and despite some restrictions, the understandings reached between the governments of Israel and the U.S. administration permit the continued settlement construction in all the communities in Judea and Samaria, and even the establishment of a new settlement for the residents of Amona," the council said.

"The true test will be the immediate renewal of planning and development throughout the settlements. We will stand guard and work to make sure that the Israeli government will actualize this plan," they said.

A senior White House official told Haaretz that Netanyahu had committed to the creation of a new settlement before President Trump directly expressed his concerns regarding the issue and that from here on out Israel promised to take Trump's concerns into account.

Germany condemned Israel's decision in a statement by the Foreign Ministry on Friday, saying that the construction of settlements in the West Bank is illegal and an obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East.

The German government also called on Israel to return to the goal of a two-state solution though reiterated its opposition to threaten Israel with boycotts.

DPA also contributed to this article.