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Israel approves 2,300 settler homes in West Bank

November 1, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Labourers work on building units for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem [Sliman Khader/Apaimages]

The plans for 2,342 settler homes in the occupied West Bank has been given final approval for construction by Israel, confirmed settlement watchdog Peace Now.

Approval for a building permit for the construction of the new Tunnel Road, which bypasses Bethlehem to the west has also been granted by Israeli occupation authorities, which is expected to increase the number of settlers in the area.

The Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee — responsible for authorising settlement construction — published the protocol yesterday from a meeting it held earlier this month when it made the approvals, Peace Now said.

According to Israeli movement Peace Now, which follows settler activity in the occupied Palestinian territories, 59 per cent of the new homes will be erected in “settlements that Israel likely may evacuate under a peace agreement” with the Palestinians.

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“Netanyahu continues to sabotage the possibility of a political agreement with the Palestinians by promoting more settlement construction in the West Bank, including in places where Israel may have to evacuate as part of a future agreement,” said the NGO.

Plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year, an increase of close to 50 per cent compared to 2018, when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved.

“This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since President Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them,” added Peace Now.

The Trump administration has avoided criticising settlement construction, as reported by the Times of Israel, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman claims he does not see anything wrong with Israel maintaining control over parts of the West Bank.

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He also participated in the official opening ceremony for an Israeli settlement’s new medical school, deep in the occupied West Bank this week.

Friedman is notorious for his longstanding personal support for the Israeli colonisation of the occupied Palestinian territory, and is a key influence in the shaping of Trump administration policy.

All Israeli settlements and associated activity are illegal under international law.

Peace Now called on the next government to “put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples.”