Israel Set to Approve Hundreds of New Settlement Homes in West Bank

Defense minister says more than 1,200 units will be approved Wednesday, but many of them have already been approved

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Palestinian construction workers at the site of a new structure in Maale Adumim on June 22, 2017.
Palestinian construction workers at the site of a new structure in Maale Adumim on June 22, 2017.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

The Civil Administration's top planning council is expected Wednesday to approve the construction of hundreds of settler homes across the West Bank.

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The council is slated to give final approval for the construction of over 300 housing units in settlements including Susya, Petzael, Ariel, Alfei Menashe and Oranit.

The biggest construction plans expected to receive approval include 212 new housing units in Oranit and 55 in Petzael. Also on tap are 44 new homes in Ma'aleh Adumim and a handful in Ariel and Beit Aryeh.

In addition, the Civil Administration is expected to promote the planning of hundreds more units. The agency is expected to discuss a plan to build 381 homes in Kfar Adumim, 196 in Givat Ze'ev, 120 in Karmei Tzur and dozens in Efrat, Tzofim, Hinanit, Metzad and elsewhere.

The council is due to discuss a plan that would retroactively approve some of the buildings in the outpost of Netiv Ha'avot in the Gush Etzion bloc. Netiv Ha'avot currently faces evacuation in March. If the plan goes through, 11 homes in the outpost will not be demolished.

Parts of the structures sit on land owned by the state, but the structures were built without a permit. If the plan is approved, the state will see if the sections not on privately owned Palestinian land can be preserved and not demolished. The state will then try to legalize the sections of houses that sit on state-owned land — the latter would not have to be razed, even though they too were built without permits.

In a statement, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said construction of 1,200 housing units in the West Bank would be approved, and that work was underway to advance approval for the construction of an additional 2,500 homes.

But Lieberman includes in the tally hundreds of housing units that have already been approved and are merely going on the market, a process that does not require further approval.

According to Lieberman, several dozens of housing units are finally going on the market in the Jewish area of Hebron. This makes for rare final approval of a new neighborhood for Jewish settlers in the Palestinian-majority city.

The housing units slated for approval will be added to the thousands of homes the government plans to build in the West Bank — homes that were reported on throughout 2017. According to UN data, only 46 of the over 3,000 housing units were put up for bidding in 2017.

All the other bidding processes have stalled, some for months, even though they were approved. One example is a bidding process for the construction of three homes in Ariel, which was canceled after it was launched, probably because of low demand. All the other bidding processes have been postponed repeatedly.

Apart from those bids, one bid for the establishment of 130 assisted-living homes in East Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood ended successfully after repeated attempts to market the units.

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