Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the termination of all non-security related coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in response to the UN Security Council adoption of a resolution demanding Israel end all settlement building activity, according to Israeli media.
The Jerusalem Post cited sources from Israel’s Ministry of Defense on Sunday saying that Lieberman gave the order to Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) — the agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Israeli news website Arutz Sheva reported that Lieberman “forbade” senior Israeli army officials from contacting PA representatives. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defense was not immediately available for comment.
Despite the US government under Barack Obama, having routinely condemned Israel’s settlement expansions, US officials have yet to take any concrete actions to end settlement building and instead inadvertently encouraged the enterprise through consistent inaction over Israel’s violation of international law and continued support of the Israeli government through inflated military aid packages.
The number of settlers living in the occupied West Bank has increased from 281,100 in 2008 to 385,900 in 2015, excluding those residing in occupied East Jerusalem. The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) estimates that between 500,000 and 600,000 Israeli settlers currently reside in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.
Meanwhile, plans for some 3,000 settler units were advanced since the start 2016 as of August according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, including hundreds of existing units that were “retroactively legalized” after formerly being considered illegal under Israeli domestic law.
Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out Monday at France for its attempt to organize an… https://t.co/cd1Hu6Uzk7
— Maher A Josephson (@Israpalestine) December 26, 2016
Israeli leadership has reacted with outrage and defiance since the UNSC approved the resolution, which states that settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law,” and call on the nations of the world “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)