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Israel approves thousands of new settler homes

Construction work on Israeli settlements [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]
Construction work on Israeli settlement unit [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

Israel has approved some 382 settler homes and advanced 1,400 other units in the occupied West Bank, some in relatively isolated settlements.

The Civil Administration council was also meant to advance the legalisation of two illegal outposts yesterday, but these were removed from the agenda prior to the meeting.

The Civil Administration discussed expanding the Kiryat Netafim settlement by an additional 84 housing units, and the notorious Beit El settlement east of the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh by a further 52 units, after the authorities had already discussed plans on Tuesday to build 650 new settler units in the Jewish-only complex.

Some construction in Beit El is already due to start next month, in preparation for 300 homes that were previously authorised. The combination of both projects is a sizable boost to the settlement's community of over 6,000 people, located outside the route of the Separation Wall.

The decision to approve the expansion was criticised by Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg who said the decision "is like sticking a finger in the eye of any possible peace process. The government doesn't care about Israeli interests, only about the interests of settlers."

Read: Israel approves new settlement units near Bethlehem

Yet the construction plans were not welcomed by the Israeli settler community, who complained that the number of units authorised were too few.

"This is the smallest number of units that the committee has advanced in the last year-and-a-half," the right-wing settlers' Yesha Council said. "At past committee meetings some 2,000 to 3,000 housing units were advanced – and this number is small compared to the tens of thousands of housing units authorised throughout the country."

"We call upon the prime minister to remove [building] restrictions and to allow for construction throughout Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank], just as it occurs in the rest of the country. This must be done today," the Yesha Council demanded.

#LandGrab

According to Palestinian figures, more than 700,000 Jewish settlers now live in 196 government authorised settlements, as well as on more than 200 settler outposts built without state approval, across the occupied West Bank.

The Trump administration has continued to ignore Israel's expansionist settlement programme, with US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, telling Israeli officials last week that there is "no need" to evacuate its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Read: Israel to build 20,000 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem

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