Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias announced on Wednesday plans to build 551 housing units throughout the West Bank. This, in addition to the 300 housing units that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to build in Beit El.
According to a Housing Ministry statement released on Wednesday, the new housing units will be built in Efrat, Maaleh Adumim, Adam, Ariel and Kiryat Arba.
It would be the first time in 12 years that Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, has received new housing units. Kadima, Netanyahu’s new coalition partner, is reportedly objecting to the Kiryat Arba plan — for 84 homes — and Netanyahu was said on Wednesday night to be reconsidering it.
Both the announcement by Attias regarding the 551 units and the earlier announcement by Netanyahu regarding the 300 units to be built in Beit El come on the heels of Wednesday’s Knesset session, in which it was decided that five buildings in the illegal outpost of Givat Ulpana, adjacent to Beit El, would be demolished. The buildings are slated for destruction on July 1 by order of the High Court of Justice, after it was determined they were built on private Palestinian land.
The Knesset voted on a bill on Wednesday that could have overturned the court’s ruling, but the bill was soundly defeated in a raucous session, with 69 opposed and 22 in favor, with 29 abstentions.
After the vote, Netanyahu emphasized that “Israel is a democracy that upholds the law, and as prime minister I am obligated to preserve the law and preserve the settlements, and I say here that there is no contradiction between the two.”
“The bill that was defeated today would have hurt the settlements,” Netanyahu added. “The plan that I am laying out today is what will strengthen the settlements.”
The US State Department reiterated its opposition to construction in the West Bank, calling the move not conducive to peace.