The Israeli government has increased discretionary spending on settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory by 50 per cent over the last two years, reported the Jerusalem Post.
According to data published by settlement watchdog Peace Now, so-called "discretionary spending" "is expenditure by various ministries outside the general budget, including from the Interior, Housing, Education, and Energy and Water ministries, as well as the National Roads Authority".
These funds are directed towards the construction of settlement housing units, as well as for roads inside the settlements, "buildings for educational, social and religious purposes, commercial centres and industrial parks", the report added.
Meanwhile, senior settler leader Yossi Dagan – head of the so-called Samaria Regional Council – stated yesterday that building permits in settlements in the northern West Bank have increased by 50 per cent over the past five years.
Dagan's comments, delivered at the Eilat Real Estate Conference, "corroborate the recent trend dramatic increases in the approval of settlement housing construction plans in the West Bank settlements in general", reported the Jerusalem Post.
"One of the clear signs of the change that is happening in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and the understanding of more and more investors, is that Samaria is not the next thing but is the thing, is that the number of building permits that has gone up significantly in recent years," said Dagan.
According to Peace Now, the number of plans for settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank as a whole that have received initial or final approval since the beginning of US President Donald Trump's administration "has risen threefold" over the equivalent figures for the latter years of Obama's term.
The Jerusalem Post also noted that there is currently a drive to ensure that the next Israeli government – whoever forms it – will annex the Jordan Valley.
Head of the settlers' Jordan Valley Regional Council David Elhayani believes there is a "tectonic shift" regarding settlements – including the recent US policy announcement – and thus an "opportunity not to be missed" with respect to annexation.