Israel to Approve 2,500 New Settlement Homes, After 8-month Lull in Council's Meetings

Planned construction includes isolated West Bank settlements and some of it blocks off Palestinian villages and towns

Hagar Shezaf
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File photo: A neighborhood under construction in the West Bank in 2017.
File photo: A neighborhood under construction in the West Bank in 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Hagar Shezaf

The Civil Administration’s supreme planning council, the Israeli body that approves planning and construction in West Bank settlements, is set to convene on Sunday in order to give final approval for the construction of 2,500 housing units. The planning council will be convening for the first time in eight months. 

In addition, 2,000 other units will be moved forward to the stages in which objections may be filed. Some of the units to be advanced or approved will obtain retroactive approval of illegally built structures, while others will block any expansion of adjacent Palestinian villages or towns.

In the settlement of Shiloh, north of Ramallah, 141 units are expected to be approved. These will be built to the north of the settlement, between the villages of Jalud and Qaryut. The heads of these two local councils, represented by attorney Shlomo Zecharya, voiced their objection to the planned construction. 

In the settlement of Pazael, in the Jordan Valley, the approval for constructing 120 hotel rooms is expected, along with a retroactive approval of an illegal motor park built in 2016 and in operation for two years.

In Geva Binyamin, northeast of Jerusalem, the construction of 357 units will be brought for final approval, the largest number to be brought before the council. In Nili, in the central West Bank, 354 units will be brought for final approval, as with 346 units in Beit El. 36 units which have already been built there will be given retroactive approval.

Aerial photo of West Bank showing Jewish settlements to the right of the separation wall and Palestinian homes to the left.
File photo: Aerial photo of West Bank showing Jewish settlements to the right of the separation wall and Palestinian homes to the left in 2014.Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis /AP

In the phase of filing plans so that objections can be heard, a plan for 952 units will be advanced in Har Gilo. This construction will block access to the village of Walaja, southwest of this settlement. In addition, 692 housing units in Eli will be moved to the next stage. Some of these have already been built illegally.

Some of the units to be approved or moved forward are to be built in areas which even under U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast plan will remain as enclaves within contiguous Palestinian territory. Thus, 121 new housing units will be approved in Yitzhar, 64 in Telem, 215 in Metzad (Asfar), and 14 in Ma’aleh Michmash.

On Friday, the daily Israel Hayom reported that the number of units to be approved is even higher. The report said that that the Civil Administration is planning on approving 5,400 housing units, more than half of which are in Betar Ilit. The paper reported that 286 new units are to be approved in Har Bracha, 181 in Enav and 120 in Pnei Kedem.

In recent months, the Yesha Council embarked on a campaign promoting new settlements, given the freeze on construction. It has tried to put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene this council, particularly after imposing sovereignty on settlements has been taken off the table.

Peace Now says in response to the convening of this council: “It’s regrettable that instead of exploiting the agreements with the Gulf states to promote peace with the Palestinians, warped priorities and placating a small and extremist minority are leading to the approval of harmful and needless construction which will only make peace more distant. We call on Minister of Defense and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz to veto these plans.”

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