The Defense Ministry approved the construction of 153 homes in West Bank settlements, after two years in which little new construction was green-lighted, according to a report Monday.
The construction plans, approved by a planning committee inside the Civil Administration which oversees the West Bank, include units in several settlements outside Hebron, and retroactive approval for homes in Rehelim, outside Nablus, according to Haaretz.
The approvals were granted last week, according to the paper.
There was no official confirmation of the new approvals.
The move was unusual, as the government had largely refrained from green-lighting West Bank housing in the past two years for fear of antagonizing the United States, which might respond by not vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, Haaretz reported.
It was unclear what precipitated the reported change in policy, which came days after US Ambassador Dan Shapiro issued tough criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank.
The few plans that have received approval in the past two years were generally cases in which illegal construction was permitted retroactively or in response to specific High Court appeals.
The plans include 34 homes in Etz Efraim, just east of the Green Line near the Israeli city of Rosh Haayin. In Carmel, a settlement in the south Hebron Hills, a program to replace temporary housing with 28 homes was approved.
In Rehelim, where a master plan recently received approval and 61 homes were given retroactive permits, 31 new ones were approved. In Alon Shvut, south of Jerusalem, the government approved the building of 60 new homes.
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman questioned the government’s reported decision to green-light the new homes while carrying out what she said was increased enforcement of demolition orders against illegal structures in Arab Israeli communities.
“In Taibe they destroy homes and in the settlements they build,” she complained. “As the Netanyahu government continues with the policy of destroying the homes of its Arab citizens, it approves the construction of housing units for settlers who live on occupied land.”