Netanyahu Orders Plans for 68 New Settler Homes to Replace 9 Slated for Demolition

The move is an attempt to reach an agreement with the residents of the Ofra settlement on the peaceful evacuation of houses that were constructed illegally on private Palestinian land.

The West Bank settlement of Ofra.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered that plans be drafted for 68 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, Haaretz has learned.

The move is part of an attempt to reach an agreement with the settlement's residents on the peaceful evacuation of nine houses that were constructed illegally on private Palestinian land, and were therefore slated for demolition as per a High Court of Justice ruling. 

A senior Israeli official said that a meeting took place Wednesday between the chief of staff at the prime minister's bureau, Yoav Horowitz, and respresentatives from Ofra regarding the nine houses that are to be demolished on February 7.

Horowitz spoke to the residents regarding a possible deal for the status of the settlement, such as the approval of the city's zoning plan. Horowitz told the residents that the prime minister would approve the advancement of plans for the construction of dozens of new housing units on land whose legal status is not in question, as replacement for the houses that are to be razed. 

A secretary for the settlement of Ofra, Sami Karsenty, refused to comment on the meeting with Horowitz or what was discussed. Residents of the houses slated for demolition told Haaretz that they have not been informed of any such deal with the prime minister's bureau. They said that they demand "an inclusive agreement process" regarding the status of the settlement and not "100 housing units."

A source said earlier that over the last few days there has been "discussion" of new planning in Ofra as a form of compensation for the nine houses. According to him, the planning is in a very preliminary stage.