Israeli authorities are planning to approved the construction of 2,223 new housing units for settlers in Jewish-only settlements built in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, media sources revealed yesterday.
The government is also planning to advance construction of 863 housing units in Palestinian villages in 'Area C' of the West Bank for the first time in years, Israeli TV Channel 12 and Haaretz newspaper reported.
This move, the Israeli reports said, is led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who wants to "legitimise settlement expansion".
The Jerusalem Post said that the plans, which break a de-facto settlement freeze, mark the first significant push for new Jewish homes in 'Area C' since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
At the same time, the newspaper said that the potential greenlight for building Palestinian homes in 'Area C' came after US pressure to boost the Palestinian Authority, which has been facing increasing popular pressure from the Palestinians.
However, no date has been given for the Palestinian construction, which may be cancelled at any time.
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In early to 2020, human rights organisation Bimkom revealed that only 21 of 1,485 applications from Palestinians for construction permits in Area C were approved by the Israeli Civil Administration between 2016 and 2018.
At the same time, then Defence Minister Bennett issued instructions to authorities to intensify Israel's crackdown on Palestinian construction in the area after stating that Area C of the occupied West Bank belongs to Israel.
"I solemnly declare that Area C belongs to Israel," Bennett said at a conference on settlement construction, adding that he has repeatedly called for imposing Israeli sovereignty over this land.
He added: "Israel is fighting a real war on Area C."
The West Bank is divided into three areas according to the Oslo Accords; Area A, under full Palestinian control, Area B, under Palestinian administrative control and Israeli security control, and Area C, under full Israeli control.