Israel Approves New West Bank Homes, Marking End of Informal Building Freeze

After almost two years, Civil Administration and other planning and building bodies have approved construction of 153 residential units in Samaria and East Jerusalem.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
Construction work in Elazar, a settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc, in July 2010.
Construction work in Elazar, a settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc, in July 2010.Credit: AP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israeli planning authorities approved the construction of 153 new apartments in West Bank settlements last week, effectively putting an end to an informal construction freeze that has lasted about 18 months.

For almost two years now, the government has largely refused to advance new building plans in the territories, due to fear that the U.S. administration would retaliate by refusing to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council. The only plans that did move forward involved either legalization of existing outposts or master plans for areas where petitions to the High Court of Justice spurred the government to act.

Thus, for instance, a master plan for the Ma’aleh Mikhmash region, east of Ramallah, was advanced last November, apparently due to an impending hearing on High Court petitions, filed by the Yesh Din rights organization and local Palestinians, who are demanding that the government evacuate the nearby Mitzpeh Dani outpost. If implemented, the plan would legalize two outposts and add thousands of apartments to existing settlements.

he West Bank settlement of Rechalim, in 2014. There is now permission to build 31 more units.Credit: Nimrod Glickman

But last week, the planning and building committee of Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank approved several new construction schemes. One was a private contractor’s plan to build 34 units in Etz Efraim, near Ariel, on a 46-dunam lot (about 12 acres). Rachelim, located in roughly the same area – where 61 units were recently legalized – got permission to build 31 new units. Another plan involved replacing mobile homes in Carmel, in the South Hebron Hills, with 28 permanent apartments. And Alon Shvut, in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, received approval to build 60 new units on a 10-dunam plot.

The authorization of these new construction plans comes on the heels of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s decision to let the Gush Etzion Regional Council annex a 40-dunam compound that once belonged to a church. The compound was recently purchased by an American organizationbacked by right-wing American Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz. Haaretz first reported the sale last May.

In addition, Jerusalem’s local planning and building commission gave final approval last month for construction of 891 units in East Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood. The plan had received initial approval in late 2012, but was then put on hold.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


United Arab List chairman Mansour Abbas in the Knesset on Monday.

Arab Voters Will Decide if Israel's Far-right Wins Power

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students

A collage of the Bentwich family throughout the generations.

Unique Burial Plot in Jerusalem Tells Story of Extraordinary Jewish Dynasty