Israeli authorities are set to advance more than 2,400 settlement housing units this week, in parallel to granting retroactive approval to four unauthorised settlement outposts.
According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, the Higher Planning Committee of the Civil Administration – a branch of the Defence Ministry which deals with a number of matters pertaining to the occupation – will convene today and tomorrow to discuss the plans.
The published agenda for the meeting includes at least 2,430 housing units in settlements all over the occupied West Bank. Reports indicate that the vast majority of the housing units set to be advanced are located in settlements outside Israel’s illegal Separation Wall.
The plans also include the “legalisation” of four illegal outposts. While all Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, Israel distinguishes between authorised and unauthorised settlements. In practice, the latter are built with the tacit approval of occupation authorities.
The four outposts to be “legalised” – effectively establishing new settlements – are located in the northern Jordan Valley, southeast of Bethlehem, and east of Jerusalem.
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Peace Now noted, “more than 30 new settlements (“outposts”) have been established”, along with “retroactive legalisation of existing outposts”.Two of the plans for settlement expansion are for the construction of hundreds of housing units as well as multi-storey buildings in Beit El, near Ramallah. Hundreds of new housing units in Bracha, meanwhile, will require “an extension of the jurisdiction of the settlement”.
Another plan is for 194 housing units in the settlement of Ganei Modiin, to be built right next to the completed portion of the Separation Wall in the area.
Last month, Israeli occupation forces demolished dozens of Palestinian housing units in Sur Baher, citing as a justification the proximity of the buildings to the Wall.
In that instance, Palestinian residents’ offer to fund a high wall for Israel’s “security needs” was rejected; in the case of Ganei Modiin, such an offer was accepted.
“The approval of settlement plans is part of a disastrous government policy designed to prevent the possibility of peace and a two-state solution, and to annex part or all of the West Bank,” said Peace Now.
“The linkage of thousands of housing permits for settlers and a negligible number of housing units for Palestinians cannot hide the government’s discrimination policy.”