Israel Mulls Hundreds of New Settlement Homes – Defense Minister Touts Over 2,000

Approval expected for hundreds of homes in secluded settlements outside of main blocs. Avigdor Lieberman had said that 2,500 new homes would be considered, but this includes some that were already approved

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Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, May 16, 2018
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, May 16, 2018Credit: \ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

Israel is expected to discuss on Tuesday the final approval of 400 new homes in secluded West Bank settlements. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that the Civil Administration in the West Bank is expected to next week support the immediate construction of 2,500 new homes, but this number includes many that had already been approved and even some that have been built.

The number of new homes could reach 1,000, including the division of single-family plots into plots for two families, without expanding the actual amount of land being used. However, in some cases the proposal is to construct entirely new neighborhoods.

Altogether construction will be advanced in more than 30 settlements throughout the West Bank, Lieberman said, including 400 in Ariel and 460 in Ma'aleh Adumim, two of the biggest non-ultra-Orthodox settlements. Dozens of homes will also be erected in more isolated, smaller settlements, such as Hinanit (which is supposed to get 80 homes), Halamish (also called Neve Tzuf, with 60 homes), Talmon (180), 250 in a geriatric facility in Elkana, and more.

Following Lieberman's announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Ma'aleh Adumum Mayor Benny Kashriel to congratulate him for the projected expansion.

"We are continuing the development momentum of settlements in Judea and Samaria and approving thousands of new housing units," said Netanyahu. "I especially congratulate Ma'aleh Adumim which will build hundreds of units after a long time in which we advanced its construction plans. This is another step to developing the settlements and we will approve new units in the near future."

Lieberman did not specify which of these housing units has obtained final approval for construction. He did say that he would be pushing the construction of thousands of new homes in the months to come.

Future homes undergoing planning processes remain far from actual construction. Even after final approvals arrive, construction of the units goes up for bid so contracters can be chosen, which also takes time.

A review of the settlement sub-committee agenda, which was published several hours after Lieberman's announcement, reveals that while his numbers are inflated, the committee is expected to approve several hundred housing units for construction. Many of them are in secluded settlements, outside of the blocs.

Other units declared by Lieberman as approved have already been approved in the best and are now being approved for a contractor's bid. This is a chiefly technical stage after planning procedures have been concluded.

These units are not on the agenda, as they no longer depend on the Civil Administration. A source in the security establishment verified that several hundred of the housing units – mainly those in the blocs, such as Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim – are in that state. Presenting them as new housing units is false.

Additionally, the committee will discuss several more hundred units to be pushed down the pipeline, but are yet to be fully approved.

The committee is expected to approve significant construction outside the blocs. Among others, 102 units that have already been erected will be retroactively approved in Negohot. In Sansana, 96 units will be approved, along with 32 hotel room units. Five units will be approved in Pnei Chever, 10 in Har Adar, 20 in Einav, 13 in Kfar Tapuah and 129 new units in Avnei Hefetz. Some of these plans to not include expanding the territory of the settlement, as they only split single family lots. Other, such as those in Har Adar and Avnei Hefetz, include erecting full new neighberhoods.

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