Israel Advances Plans for 1,292 New Homes for Settlers in Judea & Samaria
Israeli authorities on Tuesday advanced plans for 1,292 settler homes in the West Bank, in a new push by the government for such approvals, according to an AFP report.
The approvals came after government officials pledged a major boost in settlement home approvals this year, with President Donald Trump so far much less critical of such plans than his predecessor Barack Obama.
The left-wing NGO “Peace Now” reported the approvals by a committee overseeing settlement construction in the West Bank.
A list provided by the NGO showed homes to be offered in a number of locations across the territory, including 146 in Nokdim, a southern West Bank settlement near Bethlehem where Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said further approvals were likely on Wednesday, with more than 2,000 units expected to be on the agenda over the course of the two-day meeting.
"They are all over the West Bank," spokeswoman Hagit Ofran said. She said further approvals were expected to come on Wednesday.
They are part of nearly 4,000 settler home plans to be advanced in the West Bank under a push to greatly boost settlement growth, an Israeli official has said.
Separately on Monday, an Israeli committee approved permits for 31 settler homes in Hebron, the first such green light for the flashpoint West Bank city since 2002.
Several hundred Israeli settlers live in the heart of Hebron under heavy military guard among some 200,000 Palestinians.
The Hebron units are to be built on Shuhada Street, formerly an important market street leading to a holy site where the biblical Abraham is believed to have been buried.
The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians.
Settlement building in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community.
It is also seen as a major obstacle to peace as the settlements are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Israel took heavy criticism on settlement construction from Obama's administration,
but current President Donald Trump's stance has been more ambiguous. Though, he requested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "hold off " on settlement building in a White House meeting earlier this year.
Trump has been seeking to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians which have been frozen since a US-led initiative collapsed in 2014.
Netanyahu recently said he plans no uprooting of settlements, blaming Palestinian "incitement" and attacks against Israelis, among other issues, for the lack of progress in peace efforts.
The Jewish settlement of Kokhav Yaakov, north of Ramallah