France criticizes Israel’s plans to Increase settlements in Occupied West Bank

France strongly criticized Israel’s recent approval to construct 3,500 new housing units in the settlements located within the occupied West Bank, as announced on Friday. The French Foreign Ministry, in its statement, urged the Israeli government to retract what it described as an “unacceptable, illegal, and irresponsible decision.” This appeal comes amidst escalating tensions in the West Bank and precedes a period marked by religious holidays.

The ministry’s statement highlighted that the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories contradicts international law and must be halted. France voiced its opposition to any unilateral actions that could jeopardize the viability of a two-state solution, which it views as essential to ensuring Israel’s security and fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, France recalled its measures against violent, extremist settlers from the West Bank.

This development occurs in the context of an ongoing severe military engagement by Israel in the Gaza Strip, initiated in response to an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7, 2023, which resulted in nearly 1,200 deaths. The conflict has led to the deaths of at least 30,800 Palestinians and injuries to nearly 73,000 others, alongside widespread destruction and critical shortages in Gaza.

The imposition of a stringent blockade by Israel on the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, driving the majority of the enclave’s population to the brink of starvation and displacing 85% of Gaza’s residents. The infrastructure of Gaza has also suffered immense damage, with 60% reported as either damaged or destroyed.

Israel faces accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which issued a preliminary ruling in January directing Tel Aviv to cease acts of genocide and to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to the civilians in Gaza.–Web Desk