Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have denounced Israeli plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it represented “an end to the remnants of the peace process” and would “lead to more Palestinian resistance”.
On Sunday, about 1,500 members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s Likud party voted unanimously to impose Israeli sovereignty over “Judea and Samaria”, referring to the Israeli name for the occupied Palestinian territory.
The non-binding resolution also called for the unlimited construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians want for a future state.
“Likud’s decision to impose Israeli control over the occupied West Bank represents an end to the remnants of the peace process,” said Fatah, which is headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“This decision is a blow to all previously signed agreements, and an unforgivable violation of UN resolutions, the latest of which was resolution 2334, that the West Bank, including Jerusalem, is occupied territory.”
Hamas also condemned Likud’s move, calling it a “policy of aggression against the Palestinian people,” that was “taking advantage of American positions, including Trump’s dangerous declaration” – a reference to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump’s move prompted deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories and major rallies in support of the Palestinians across the Muslim world.
A resounding majority of UN member states also defied unprecedented threats by the US to declare the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void”.
“It would really mean that there is no more attempt to try to find a two-state solution to the crisis,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from West Jerusalem, said.
“We also spoke with many analysts, who said that … there is no way that such an inflammatory resolution would actually get to the Knesset in its current form.”
He said there were “many more questions at this hour than answers” about what is going to happen next.
Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of Electronic Intifada, an online magazine that documents Israel’s occupation, said the vote signaled a desire “to deepen the colonisation and occupation of Palestinians.”
“We’re just starting 2018 – Is this going to be another year of hand-ringing and empty statements about a two-state solution from the so-called international community, or are they going to impose a cost on Israel for its continued international violations,” Abunimah told Al Jazeera.
“If government’s continue to drag their feet, what we’re going to see is an escalation and growth of the BDS movement and Israel treated more like a pariah state, like South Africa was a decade ago.
“Through this vote, Israel is sending a signal, through the Likud Party, that it is only interested in entrenching apartheid and occupation. Israel is not interested in peace.”
Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, and are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Palestinian leaders want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city cannot be divided.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and proceeded to effectively annex it, in breach of international law.
The separation wall, which Israel started building in 2002, snakes through the occupied West Bank’s territory, dividing villages, encircling towns and splitting families from each other.
Today, 86 percent of East Jerusalem is under direct control of the Israeli authorities and Jewish settlers.
Around 200,000 settlers live in settlements that have been mostly built either entirely or partially on private Palestinian property.
Of that number, 2,000 settlers live in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods under army protection.
Based on the law in the West Bank, a state is only allowed to expropriate private land for public Palestinian needs.
Israel uses this law, however, to confiscate private land for building Jewish-only settlement roads, connecting them with one another and to Israel. In this way, 12 settlements were built in East Jerusalem on Palestinian property declared for “public needs”.
In October, Israel’s civil administration approved for the first time in 15 years the construction of 31 settlement housing units in the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers settlement construction activities there as illegal.