Israel to approve almost 4,000 new West Bank homes — report

Construction said set to be green-lighted in Hebron, Beit El and many other settlements, but infrastructure, bypass roads and industrial areas not included

Illustrative: Construction in the settlement of Ariel, on January 17, 2014. (Flash 90)
Illustrative: Construction in the settlement of Ariel, on January 17, 2014. (Flash 90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is reportedly set to approve almost 4,000 new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank next week.

According to a Channel 2 news report Sunday, the 3,829 units are slated to be built in various areas across the West Bank, including in isolated settlements.

The approval will include 30 units in the West Bank city of Hebron, 296 in the settlement of Beit El, 453 in Givat Ze’ev, 102 in Naguhot, 97 in Rechalim, 54 in Har Bracha, 86 in Kochav Yaakov, 48 in Ma’aleh Michmash, 158 in Kfar Ezion, 129 in Avnei Hefetz, 120 in Nofim, and 206 in Tekoa, according to the TV report.

Two weeks ago, Netanyahu told settler leaders that his government was slated to approve the housing. At the time, the prime minister said US President Donald Trump was prepared to tolerate limited settlement building.

During that closed-door meeting, Netanyahu said he successfully convinced the Trump administration to drop its distinction between settlement blocs and so-called isolated settlements, as evidenced by the reported list of construction to be approved, which includes the isolated settlements.

The new construction is reportedly to be approved during the next meeting of the Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee on October 16. The committee has pushed off its scheduled quarterly meeting for many months to avoid upsetting the Trump administration.

Netanyahu had promised a bump in building permits in Beit El, following the demolition of a number of homes in the settlement in 2012, and the Channel 2 list of buildings to be approved includes almost 300 there.

Sunday’s Channel 2 report also said the new bypass roads and industrial areas which the settlers had hoped for will not be approved at this time.

The settler leaders had called for the construction of additional bypass roads in the West Bank and argued the infrastructure development would benefit the area’s Jewish and Palestinian residents.

An Israeli official also told Channel 2 on Sunday that the government rejected the criticism of the US administration by a settler leader, saying Yossi Dagan’s recent remarks against Washington hurt the settlement enterprise.

Earlier on Sunday, settler leader Dagan criticized Trump for both pressuring Israel to scale back settlement building and for his delay in relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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