Israel’s Civil Administration approved on Monday measures to advance the construction of 1,303 homes in Palestinian villages in the West Bank. However, only 170 houses, in the village of Barta’a, were given final clearance; for the rest, approval for building permits is likely to take years.
All of these villages are located in Area C of the West Bank, which under the Oslo Accords is under both Israeli military and civil control.
Very few permits for Palestinian homes in Area C have progressed to construction over the past years. According to a report by the Times of Israel, in 2019 Israel’s security cabinet approved construction of 700 housing units, but an examination taken in June the following year found that the Civil Administration had in practice approved just six of them.
In 2017, a building plan encompassing some 5,000 housing units in Qalqilyah was approved, but it never moved forward – blocked, according to a Ynet report, by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The plans approved Monday include 270 homes in Bir al-Basha, in the Jenin area; 270 more in al-Masara in the Bethlehem area; 233 in al-Masqufa; 200 in Dkeika, in the South Hebron Hills; and 160 in Khirbet Aba, near Jenin.
Ahead of Monday’s deliberations, it was already known last week that Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah, which is located in the Etzion settlement bloc, would not be included. It had originally been on the agenda for August.
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Settlers from the area had pressured Defense Minister Benny Gantz to block any move to advance building plans. In addition, the Jewish National Fund has raised objections, saying that it owns part of the land included in the Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah plan.