This picture taken on July 29, 2016 shows a general view of an Israeli building site in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of East Jerusalem al-Quds. (Photo by AFP)
The Tel Aviv regime has expanded its settlement activities in the occupied territories during the presidency of Barack Obama, Israeli data show.
According to the figures, which were released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics this week, over 12,288 new settlement units were launched during Obama’s term from 2009 up to June 30, 2016, the Associated Press reported.
The most recent figures showed that in the first half of 2016 alone, work began on 1,195 settlement units.
Based on that pace of construction, the number could well exceed 13,000 housing units by the time Obama leaves office, according to the report.
The surge comes despite Obama’s repeated criticism of Israel for its settlement expansion.
US President Barack Obama (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, November 9, 2015.(Photo by AFP)
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said she was “not surprised at all” by the figures, dismissing the US criticism as mere lip service.
“They did nothing to stop it. On the contrary, they looked the other way,” she said.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlements expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel’s settlement expansion has been among the main reasons behind the collapse of the last round of the so-called Middle East peace talks in 2014.