According to proponents and opponents of settlements, Israel’s far-right government has given the go-ahead for more than 7,000 additional dwellings in Jewish communities in the West Bank.
Construction in the occupied region faces significant international condemnation, yet the movement persists.
Only a few days have passed since the U.N. The Security Council adopted a resolution sharply denouncing Israeli settlement growth on Palestinian-claimed territory now under occupation.
According to diplomats, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, rejected what would have been an even stricter legally enforceable resolution after receiving guarantees from Israel to desist from unilateral actions for six months.
The new approvals occurred during a two-day meeting that ended on Thursday and seemed to refute those assertions.
While regularly criticizing Israeli settlement growth and claiming that it threatens prospects for a two-state solution with the Palestinians, the United States has done nothing to halt it.
An anti-settlement watchdog group called Peace Now, which was present at the conference, reported that a planning committee had approved some 7,100 new dwelling units for the West Bank.
According to the group, the committee has planned a meeting for next month to go over development ideas for E1, a crucial area east of Jerusalem.
The idea, which critics claim would make it hard to construct a viable Palestinian state beside it, has previously been vetoed by the U.S.
The group’s director, Lior Amichai, stated that 5,200 housing units were in the planning phase while the remaining ones were cleared for building shortly. He added that four illegal outposts had construction permitted.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration said earlier this week that he had committed not to authorize any additional rogue outposts. After retrospectively legalizing ten already-existing colonies earlier this month, he committed.
Only a few days after promising the United States that there will be no further settlement expansion in the foreseeable future, the Israeli government is “spitting in their face,” according to Peace Now.
The United States made no immediate response.
Tensions have risen due to an Israeli military raid that left 10 Palestinians dead in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday.
The planned building is likely to increase those tensions even further.
The Palestinians and the international world view establishing settlements as unlawful and an impediment to peace.
In the West Bank and east Jerusalem that Israel occupied in 1967, but the Palestinians wanted a future independent state, over 700,000 Jews now reside there.
Religious and ultranationalist MPs with solid ties to the settlement movement make up most of Netanyahu’s new coalition, which took power in late December.
Bezalel Smotrich, the fiery settler leader and finance minister, received official Cabinet-level power over settlement plans on Thursday.
Smotrich had earlier this month pledged to make a significant settlement push. Although settler representatives, who were present at the planning conference, cheered what they claimed were new approvals, his administration declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.
Yossi Dagan, a prominent settler in the northern West Bank, applauded the retroactive approval of 118 dwellings in the settlement “Nofei Nehemia” following a 20-year battle.
Using the historical name for the area, he declared, “Excellent news for Samaria, for settlement, and the entire country of Israel.”
Shlomo Neeman, mayor of the “Gush Etzion” settlement bloc near Jerusalem and chairman of the Yesha settler’s council, called the approvals “a major boost.” settlers claimed hundreds of new homes were authorized.
The choice represents one of the recent most significant settlement construction approvals. Comparatively, according to Peace Now, 8,000 units were authorized in the two years prior.
It’s pretty significant, Amichai added.