Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli settlement expansion plans in West Bank

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday condemned an Israeli decision to approve the development of 3,500 new settlement units in the West Bank.

The Saudi foreign ministry said the Kingdom “strongly condemned” the planned settlement and attempts to Judaized large parts of the West Bank.

The statement comes as an Israeli minister said the plans to construct the units had been pushed forward.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee, across Maale Adumim and Kedar, east of Jerusalem, and Efrat, south of the city.

The recent push comes after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last month vowed to expand settlements, in response to Palestinian gunmen killing an Israeli civilian and wounding several others in the West Bank.

“Nearly 3,500 settlement units,” minister Orit Strock wrote Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.

“We promised — we are delivering… Together we will continue to advance the settlements,” added Strock, an ally of fellow extreme-right settler Smotrich.

The move also came as Israel is engaged in a war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip since the Islamist group’s deadly attack on southern Israeli communities on October 7.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are viewed as illegal under international law and many countries reject their expansion. Israel captured the West Bank in 1967 after the Arab-Israeli war and settlements there have flourished with nearly half a million settlers calling the territory home.

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