Israel Approves Thousands of New Settler Homes Ahead of West Bank Outpost's Evacuation

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The illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, slated for evacuation, January 31, 2017.
The illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, slated for evacuation, January 31, 2017.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

Israel approved the construction of thousands of new homes in West Bank settlements, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The statement was released as the Israeli army was preparing for the court-ordered evacuation of Amona, an illegal West Bank outpost.

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The statement said that Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to approve the construction of more than 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, more than 2,000 of which for immediate construction and the rest in various stages of planning.

"We are in a new period in which life in Judea and Samaria are back on track," Lieberman said in the statement.

The statement detailed some of the settlements in which construction was approved: Alfei Menashe, 700 homes; Oranit, 200; Nofim, 50; Beit Arye, 650; Efrat, 30; Nokdim, 150; Givat Ze'ev, 150; Shavei Shomron, 70; Karnei Shomron, 100; Shilo, 100; Metzudot Yehuda, 100; Kfar Eldad, 80; Beitar Illit, 650.

The Israeli army has ordered the settlers of Amona to leave the illegal outpost within 48 hours. According to a leaflet posted on Tuesday morning at the outpost, after 48 hours the army will bar entry to Amona and no one will be allowed to stay on the premises.

The order requires the settlers to remove their property from the outpost by midnight on Wednesday, 48 hours after the order came into effect midnight on Monday. However, the settlers claim that they only received the order on Tuesday morning. The order also gives the settlers the option to petition the army within 48 hours.

Last week, Netanyahu and Lieberman approved the construction and planning of some 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank. According to a Defense Ministry press release, most of the units are located within settlement blocs, while some 100 of them are located in the settlement of Beit El, and others in Migron. However, a look at the planned locations shows the construction is slated for outside the settlement blocs, as well.

Last week's approval came under fire from Yesha Council of settlements, which called it a "disappointment" and said the new units "don't meet demand." Most of the units will get caught up in bureaucracy and won't be constructed, leaving just a few hundred that will, Yesha said in a statement.

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