Under Bennett, Israel Approves Construction in West Bank for First Time in Six Months

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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The illegal structures brought down by security forces at an outpost close to the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, in the northern West Bank, on Friday, July 10, 2020.
Illegal structures brought down by security forces at an outpost near Yitzhar in the northern West Bank a year ago. Credit: Border Police
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

For the first time in over six months, construction plans in West Bank settlements have been approved by the relevant subcommittee of the Israeli military’s Civil Administration in the West Bank.

The news Wednesday also marks the first time construction plans in the settlements have been approved since the formation of the new government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid on June 13, and the first time in seven months that the subcommittee has convened.

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At issue are 31 zoning plans containing a small number of housing units, or facilities such as a park and a commercial center in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim east of Jerusalem.

Eighteen of the plans have received final approval. Construction has been approved in settlements such as Alfei Menashe, Elkana, Havat Sde Bar and Yitzhar.

The subcommittee approves smaller zoning plans in the settlements; larger ones are cleared by the High Planning Council, which has not met since January. The last time the council approved new construction in settlements was in October, when it green lit 2,800 new homes. 

The Yesha Council of settlements said in response: “What has been approved today is not the construction of housing units and not a meeting of the High Planning Council. We have been waiting for six months for approval of plans for houses, and this hasn’t happened yet.

“The planning council must be convened immediately to approve construction of housing units throughout the region. We have waited enough.”

Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties, sharply criticized the approval of construction in the settlements, saying: “The government has existed for less than two weeks, and already, 31 construction plans have been approved in the settlements."

Odeh added that "the left is surrendering to the right and setting the diplomatic issue aside, but the right continues to sabotage the chances of peace and to deepen the occupation, repression, and dispossession of millions of Palestinians. Only the end of the occupation and a just peace will bring equality, democracy, and social justice to both peoples.”

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