RAMALLAH, Palestine

Jewish settlers began building illegal settlements Tuesday in the south of the occupied West Bank after seizing Palestinian lands.   

Eyewitnesses said a large number of settlers raided the northern part of Halhul village in Hebron. 

While Palestinians are not allowed to enter the area, which was declared a “military zone” by the Israeli army, Jewish settlers began preparations for construction after planting Israeli flags on the site. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would annex all settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley as of July 1 under an agreement with his rival-turned-ally Benny Gantz, the head of the Blue and White coalition. 

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation, which would further undermine the two-state solution. 

The annexation stems from US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” which was announced on Jan. 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank. 

The plan calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected through bridges and tunnels. 

Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30%-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem. 

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The Palestinians want these territories — along with the Gaza Strip — for the establishment of a future Palestinian state. 

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal. 

*Writing by Burak Dag

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.