Al-Jazeera / May 6, 2022
If approved, it would be the biggest advancement of illegal Jewish settlement plans since US President Joe Biden took office.
Israel is set to advance plans for the construction of 4,000 illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the interior minister has said.
Interior minister Ayelet Shaked, a staunch supporter of settlements, wrote in a Tweet on Friday that a planning committee would convene next week to approve 4,000 homes, calling construction in the West Bank a “basic, required and obvious thing”.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the Civil Administration, a military body, would meet Thursday to advance 1,452 units, and that another 2,536 units would be approved by defence minister Benny Gantz.
Jewish settlements are fortified, Jewish-only housing complexes built on Palestinian land in violation of international law. Between 600,000 and 750,000 Jewish settlers live in at least 250 illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
If approved, it would be the biggest advancement of settlement plans since US President Joe Biden took office. The White House is opposed to settlement growth because it further erodes the possibility of an eventual two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides was quoted by local media on Friday as saying the Biden administration has repeatedly made it clear to Israel during the past week that it strongly opposes any further settlement expansion activity.
The move comes ahead of a planned visit by Biden to Israel, slated for June.
Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist and founder of the Youth Against Settlements NGO, told Al-Jazeera that the approval of 4,000 new settler homes would mean “more Israeli [Jewish] settler violence towards Palestinians in the West Bank” and more “restrictions and apartheid polices” to be imposed on the Palestinians.
“It is an indicator that Israel is violating international law with impunity and without accountability, and it shows that the international community is using double standards with Israel,” Amro said.
He added the move also makes Palestinians feel “more disappointed and hopeless” towards the Biden administration.
Israel approved the construction of 3,000 Jewish settler homes in October despite another US rebuke. Authorities have, however, paused some especially controversial projects in the wake of strong US opposition.
Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has continued under every Israeli government since Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Middle East war.
However, construction accelerated in the last few years under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a significant boom during Trump’s US administration, which Palestinians accused of having a strong pro-Israel bias.
Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property are a regular occurrence in the West Bank, home to nearly three million Palestinians.
The Palestinian leadership wants the West Bank as part of a future state and views the illegal settlements as a major obstacle to any potential deal.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining a “Jewish demographic majority”, Amnesty said. Israel also exercises full control over land and resources to benefit Jewish Israelis, including those in illegal settlements.
Additional reporting by Farah Najjar
SOURCE: AL-JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Israel to approve 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank
Right-wing MPs laud decision after killing of three Israelis, with critics saying illegal settlement is a an obstacle to peace.
Israel is set to approve 4,000 housing units for illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said 1,452 units are expected to be built, while 2,536 are expected to be approved by Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday.
Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is illegal under international law. Last time settlement units were approved in October, the Biden administration lashed out at Israel, condemning continued settlement building publicly and behind closed doors.
Right-wing parties hailed the decision. New Hope, a member of the coalition government, said strengthening Jewish settlement was more crucial than ever.
The decision follows the killing of three Israelis in an attack in the central town of Elad. Two Palestinian men are suspected to have been the perpetrators.
“Convening the Higher Planning Council at the present time is twice as important. The enemies of Israel must know that the people of Israel are determined to strengthen the Jewish settlement, particularly in Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” New Hope said in a tweet.
Nir Orback, an MP with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party tweeted: “I congratulate the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister on responding to my request and on issuing the summons to the General Assembly. In Gaza, we will continue to work for settlement. Israel-wide settlement is stronger and safer.”
However, Mossi Raz from the left-wing Meretz party responded to Orback, saying: “Approving over 3,000 units to be built in settlements in the occupied territories is immoral and harmful for the future citizens of Israel.”
On Thursday, Israel’s high court ruled for the eviction of 1,000 Palestinians from an area in the West Bank so that the land could be repurposed for the Israeli military and used as a “firing zone”.
Masafer Yatta, a 3,000-hectare rural area of the south Hebron hills, is under Israeli control and home to multiple small Palestinian villages. However, Israel argued that the villagers living in the area were not permanent residents when the zone was declared in the 80s.
Edna Mohamed is a London based journalist