Israel is planning to build a settlement in east Jerusalem that will be in violation of international law and is expected to trigger a new round of international criticism of its settlement policies, an Israeli official said Tuesday.
The move comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government prepares to announce plans for construction of around 10,000 new homes in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as plans for more than a dozen Jewish settlements in the area, an official said.
The Israeli official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
The official said construction of the new settlement would be “in contravention of international norms.”
The Israeli government, however, has not yet announced its plans for the new settlements.
“It is not clear if the settlement will be built in violation and will be able to build in the future,” said Avi Cohen, an expert at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
“We will have to wait and see.”
According to Cohen, the new Israeli settlement would violate the 1947 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which states that a foreign country cannot establish permanent colonies in the waters of another country.
“In addition to the fact that UNCLOS does not specify which rights are included in the convention, the convention itself does not explicitly address settlement construction,” Cohen said.UNCLOSS states that only foreign states can establish permanent territorial units in international waters.
“The only obligation that the U.S. has is to comply with the law of the sea, which states: ‘The United States shall not establish any territorial unit in international or exclusive economic zones.’
The United States, therefore, is bound by the law as written,” Cohen continued.
Israel is building about 10,600 housing units in settlements and the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, which was established in the 1980s.
The government has also announced plans to build an additional 300 housing units.
The new housing units are expected to be constructed in Area C, which covers roughly half of the West, including the Jordan Valley, the West bank and the Gaza Strip.
The announcement of the plans follows several days of criticism by Israeli lawmakers and human rights groups over Israeli construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.
In February, the Israeli government approved the construction of about 50,000 housing units, in areas that have been largely closed off to Palestinians.
The announcement comes just days after Israel demolished the entire Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City, a move condemned by the United Nations as “an apartheid regime.”
The United Nations also said it was concerned about the demolition of the Al-Quds Mosque compound, and Israel said the move was in response to international pressure.
Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party have been leading the opposition in the Israeli parliament in the past few years, accusing the government of using “a new form of discrimination” against Palestinians.
Israel has been working to cement ties with the United States and Europe, which have become increasingly concerned about Israel’s settlement policies.