PLO Says Israel Implementing Expansion Master Plan in West Bank Settlements

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has accused Israel of expanding the settlements in the West Bank by constructing new roads.

"Constructing new roads is a clear indication that Israel carries on with its plan to annex large parts of the West Bank," Xinhua news agency quoted the PLO's National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements as saying in an official report on Saturday.

The Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is a significant factor behind the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and one of the main reasons for the breakdown of the last peace talks between the two sides in 2014.

"The (Israeli) projects include building dozens of roads between settlements through a master plan, the first of its kind in years, to establish a transportation network in the settlements," the PLO report noted.

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A general view picture shows home in the Israeli outpost of Palgey Maim, in the occupied West Bank February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

124 Israeli Settlement Outposts Built

Israeli media reported last week that the goal of building up new roads is to expand settlements to increase the number of settlers in the West Bank to 1 million.

According to the PLO, about 124 Israeli settlement outposts have been built in the West Bank since the 1990s without any official Israeli approval.

Palestinian rights groups said about 700,000 settlers have been living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967.

The Israeli settlements built on the Palestinian territories are regarded as illegal by the international community.

However in 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer considered Israeli settlements as inconsistent with international law.