Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon gave their okay to move forward with the construction of hundreds of housing units in West Bank settlements, including a number in isolated outposts.
Last month, the government instructed the Civil Administration's top planning board to promote new construction projects. The move follows a period of over a year of a low-key settlement construction freeze.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator, told Haaretz in response that "the latest approval of settlement construction, and the significant increase in Israeli settlement activity during 2016, should serve as a reminder to the international community of its responsibility to put an end to such crimes, and the importance of utilizing all avenues, including the United Nations Security Council, to hold Israel accountable for its continuous crimes, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to honor the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, also responded. "I'm sorry to say that the news isn't news. I wish that these announcements had some truth to them, but it's only approvals for the existing situation. This is a mockery. The settlement enterprise won't be able to stand aside when its hands are being tied and it's being frozen and not allowed to grow.
"I call on the government to come to its senses and fulfill the mandate for which it was established – to permit planning and construction all across Israel, including in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem," he added.
In the Israeli settlement Har Brakha, where many Likud members live, 54 new housing units were approved for construction on an area of six dunams (about 1.5 acres).
In another settlement, Revava, the construction of 17 housing units was approved on land that has already been approved for construction in the past.
In Ganei Modi'in, a settlement designated for ultra-Orthodox residents, an additional 48 housing units were approved for construction on 20 dunams (about 5 acres).
In Tekoa, an additional 34 housing units were approved as part of a compound that was already approved in the past.
The expansion of Nokdim was approved also approved. In addition, an area of 69 dunams (about 17 acres) that is currently occupied by mobile homes will be replaced by 70 housing units.
In Givat Ze'ev, 76 new housing units were approved.
These new housing units join the 24 units in Kiryat Arba and 98 housing units in Neriya approved last month. In January the Israeli Civil Administration's top planning board approved the construction of 153 new housing units in West Bank settlements.
Over the past two years, Israel held off on promoting new construction projects in the West Bank due to Netanyahu's fear that new construction would lead the United States to hold off on vetoing resolutions against Israel in the United Nations.
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