Israel to advance plans for 3,000 settlement homes – report

Committee said to delay vote on new units to avoid giving Palestinians another grievance to air at the UN General Assembly next month

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Illustrative: Building in 2014 at the West Bank settlement of Ariel (Flash90)
Illustrative: Building in 2014 at the West Bank settlement of Ariel (Flash90)

The Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank will reportedly be advancing plans for some 3,000 new housing units when it convenes next month.

The Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee had been scheduled to meet next week, according to a Channel 2 news report Wednesday, but its quarterly session was postponed until after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip abroad.

Sources told Channel 2 that the government did not want to “arm” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with another complaint against Israel at the UN General Assembly, which will convene on September 12, and where both Abbas and Netanyahu will be speaking.

Included in the plans set to be advanced by the Civil Administration are 700 housing units in Ariel, 260 and 97 units in the northern West Bank settlements of Tzofim and Rechalim, respectively, 86 units in the Binyamin region’s Migron, and 192 in the South Hebron Hills’ Negohot, the report said.

The Defense Ministry body, which has already approved 3,400 housing units this year, will reportedly also work to shorten the planning process for West Bank settlements.

Currently, building plans require Civil Administration approval at a number of stages throughout the planning process. The government is looking to decrease the number of authorizations necessary for final validation in order to limit the public outcry that typically follows each stage of the approval process.

Much of the international community views settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

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