RAMALLAH, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat on Tuesday slammed the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to build 840 new settler units in the West Bank.
In statements to the official Palestinian radio station (Voice of Palestine), Erekat urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to "open an investigation with Israeli criminals who are committing the crimes of settlements on Palestinian territory."
"The ICC is not a court for states, but for individuals, those who carry out such crimes as Netanyahu and all those involved in settlement activity, killings, the closures, the sieges, the ethnic cleaning and they are all known," he said.
The Israeli prime minister announced the construction of 840 new settler units in the settlement of Ariel, build on lands of Salfit district north of the West Bank, during a visit to the area on Sunday.
Israeli settlement watchdog, Peace Now, denounced the project, which was approved two years ago, saying "it is a shame" that the construction will begin now.
Ariel settlement is considered one of the largest Jewish only settlements in the West Bank, located around 16.5 km away from the Green Line. According to Israeli data, it is home to some nearly 20,000 settlers and is the only settlement that includes a university.
Based on UN reports, some 20-25,000 settlers add up to the current population in the West Bank settlements annually.
Israeli settlement activity, deemed illegal by most world powers and under the international law, is considered one of the thorniest issues that hinder the peace talks between Palestinians and Israeli. It continues to be one of the main issues of disagreement since the stop of the peace talks in 2014.