Defense Minister: 3,900 settlement homes to be green-lit next week
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Defense Minister: 3,900 settlement homes to be green-lit next week

Liberman says 2,500 units will gain final approval while an additional 1,400 will be advanced through planning stages; settlers mum until official agenda published

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

A photograph of the construction work being done for a new neighborhood in the Ma'ale Amos settlement on June 18, 2017. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
A photograph of the construction work being done for a new neighborhood in the Ma'ale Amos settlement on June 18, 2017. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Thursday that the government body responsible for authorizing settlement construction will green-light 3,900 housing units in the West Bank next week.

He said that the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee, which falls under his office’s jurisdiction, will grant final construction approval for 2,500 homes while an additional 1,400 in 30 settlements will be advanced through various other planning stages.

The defense minister said that among the plans slated to be approved are projects for 400 homes in Ariel, 460 homes in Ma’aleh Adumim, a 250-unit assisted living center in Elkana, 180 in Talmon, 170 in Neve Daniel, 160 in Kfar Etzion, 150 in Kiryat Arba, 130 in Avnei Hefetz, 130 in Tene Omarim, 80 in Hinanit, 60 in Halamish, 45 in Ma’ale Efraim and 40 in Avnei Hafetz. The sites of the other 245 homes were not specified.

A map pinpointing the settlements where building plans are set to be advanced.  

“We have committed ourselves to promoting construction in Judea and Samaria,” said Liberman in a statement, using the biblical term for areas of the West Bank. “In the coming months, we will continue to settle and develop Judea and Samaria in practice.”

A spokesman for the Yesha settlement umbrella council said his organization could not comment until a full agenda for next week’s Civil Administration meeting is released.

In previous announcements of such sessions, government officials including Liberman have appeared to inflate the number of homes slated for approval.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visits the construction site of the new West Bank settlement of Amichai on October 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In January when the defense minister declared that 1,258 units would earn final approval for construction at the upcoming Civil Administration meeting, he factored in over 900 homes that were set to go through an additional “marketing” stage. In this extra step in the planning process, homes are marketed by the Housing Ministry to private contractors, who are then responsible for carrying out the construction.

However, the government had already counted those 900 homes as having received final approval when the Civil Administration committee met last year. Liberman appeared to have counted those homes again to reach the high figure he publicized then. Moreover, many of those homes have still not been marketed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the defense minister’s announcement, saying it demonstrated how the government is “continuing with the sweeping development of settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

“I especially congratulate Ma’aleh Adumim, which will build hundreds of units after a long period in which we worked to advance a construction plan (for the settlement),” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This is another step in the development of settlements and in the near future we will approve additional units,” the prime minister concluded.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog blasted the news, saying it “conveyed a clear message about the government’s distorted priorities.”

The left-wing NGO lamented the government’s pouring of millions of shekels for a policy of “creeping annexation” rather than investing the money in building bomb shelters for Israelis in the north where such protection is said to lacking.

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