Defense Minister Ehud Barak has agreed to advance a plan to expand the Itamar settlement to five times its size by adding 538 homes, according to documents obtained by Haaretz.
Barak approved the plan in September, even though there is still no master plan in effect for the settlement, which was founded in 1984 on state land, which means that no legal building permits can be issued. But since the murder of five members of the Fogel family on the settlement in March 2011, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria has been pressing to advance the construction.
According to the documents obtained by Haaretz, a meeting took place on September 24 in Barak's office to discuss the new plan for Itamar, which is five kilometers southeast of Nablus. At issue was a plan to retroactively approve 137 homes that are already built, and to build an additional 538 homes.
Before construction actually begins, however, it will need additional approval from the Defense Ministry. This week, the Civil Administration's Supreme Planning Council will debate the plan.
Only recently, Barak told the Israel Hayom newspaper that Israel would have to converge into settlement blocs as part of a final agreement with the Palestinians. "There will be isolated communities that will have no alternative but to be brought home [into Israel] or to be allowed to try living under the Palestinian Authority," he said.
Barak's office said Sunday, "Advancing the planning procedures for Itamar's urban plan was approved for the purpose of regularizing the current situation on April 30, 2012. As for construction beyond what currently exists, issuing building permits requires additional approval by the Defense Ministry. At this stage there is no approval for any additional construction."
Meanwhile, only two months after the Migron outpost in the Binyamin region was evacuated, there has been new encroachment onto privately owned Palestinian property in four locations at Winery Hill, the area where Migron residents were moved, according to left-wing activist Dror Etkes.
Stealing Palestinian land, said Etkes, "is a pattern embedded deeply in the DNA of the entire settlement enterprise, and in that of Migron residents in particular."
Both the Civil Administration and Migron representatives declined to comment.
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