Two Israeli settlements are now considered “viva” by Palestinians in the West.
The “vivi” designation is part of a recent wave of new Palestinian-designated Palestinian housing that began in recent months, as the Israeli authorities began building dozens of new settler-only housing units in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Hebron and Nablus in the central West Bank.
In all, over 200,000 new settlements were built in the occupied West Bank, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Israeli human rights organization that tracks settlement activity in the territory.
As of the end of November, nearly two dozen Palestinian-controlled settlements were considered “part of the vivi designation,” OCHA said, adding that a large majority of them were built between 2013 and 2017.
According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, at least 5,200 Palestinian villages and towns in the area were designated as viva in the last decade, according a count by the Palestinian Centre for Policy & Survey Research (PCPSR).
In 2016, OCHA identified 7,100 Palestinian settlements as vivis.
A majority of those settlements have a population of more than 50,000, according the PCPSR, but the Israeli government has stated that the vast majority are built without permits and have been built without a formal planning process.
The settlements, however, have become a rallying point for Israeli settler groups that have repeatedly called for the demolitions of the illegal Jewish communities.
In recent months alone, Israel has demolished over 1,100 illegal Jewish outposts in the Gaza Strip, the West bank and East Jerusalem, according for the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.
While most of the settlements built in those areas have been demolished, some remain in use as illegal outposts.
The Palestinian Authority has demolished some of these structures, and Israeli forces have reportedly shot at Palestinian youths and their vehicles in the process.
Palestinian residents say they are concerned about the increased construction in the settlements, which have led to the displacement of thousands of Palestinians in recent years.
In 2014, the United States and the European Union imposed a series of economic sanctions against Israel and the settlements over their activities.
The U.S. and European Union subsequently imposed similar measures on other Israeli companies, including Israel’s biggest construction company, Israel’s largest state-owned enterprise, and Israel’s main energy producer, Eilat.
In 2016, Israel signed an agreement with the European Parliament to lift sanctions against the settlements.
But the accord does not allow the EU to impose any new restrictions on settlement activity, which Israel considers illegal.
The European Union has also accused Israel of failing to provide a full accounting of its settlement construction.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry in a statement on Monday accused the EU of failing “to ensure that it fully fulfills its obligations under the EU resolution, which obliges it to ensure that settlements in the OPT are compatible with the Geneva Convention and its obligations in the Security Council resolutions,” referring to the 1967 U.P.G. Convention on the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In response to the EU sanctions, Israel said that it “has no intention of returning to the status quo in the territories,” adding that it would continue to pursue its security goals with “zero tolerance” for settlement activities.
The EU sanctions were not imposed because Israel is seeking to withdraw from the West Jerusalem and East Judea settlements.
Israel said the European Commission has not taken any action in response to its complaints about the Israeli settlements.
However, the European Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement calling on the EU’s executive committee to act to “immediately suspend the European Council’s sanction on Israel and its settlement activities” and to lift the “EU sanctions against it.”
In a letter to the European Court of Justice on Tuesday, the EU said it was “considering the request for an immediate suspension of the EU action,” but it is not yet clear if it will be able to take such a step.
A statement from the European Economic and Social Committee, the body that represents EU governments, also said that the European parliament would “review the action of the European council, with a view to a possible resolution.”
In response, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the European sanctions “a clear threat to the existence of the State of Israel.”
“Israel is not an aggressor state and does not have the right to impose its settlement policies on any of its neighbors, and does have the duty to protect its existence,” the ministry said.