Plans for first new settlement in 25 years approved
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Plans for first new settlement in 25 years approved

Green light allows for groundbreaking at Amichai, future home of evacuees from illegal Amona outpost; planning for 2,500 homes advanced across West Bank

Construction workers work on clearing land for new caravans in the Jewish settlement of Ofra, in the West Bank, on January 29, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/FLash90)
Construction workers work on clearing land for new caravans in the Jewish settlement of Ofra, in the West Bank, on January 29, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/FLash90)

Plans to begin work on the first Israeli West Bank settlement in 25 years cleared the final planning hurdle Wednesday, along with a program to build 2,000 housing units throughout the West Bank.

The green light came following the intervention of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the Ynet news site reported.

The plans, approved by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee, include 102 housing units for Amichai, which will be located near the settlements of Shiloh and Eli, north of Ramallah.

Amichai is a new settlement to be built for residents of the illegal Amona outpost, which was evacuated in February in line with court orders because it was built on private Palestinian land.

It will be the first settlement to be constructed since the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords signed in the 1990’s.

A partial view taken on March 31, 2017, shows dismantled caravans from the Amona outpost placed in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. (AFP/ Thomas Coex)
A partial view taken on March 31, 2017, shows dismantled caravans from the Amona outpost placed in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. (AFP/ Thomas Coex)

Most evacuees are currently living in the settlement of Ofra, next to what was Amona. Others are in Shiloh.

A spokesman for the Amona evacuees said, “We commend the permission given to start ground preparation,” but he added, “We should stress that the permit allows preparations only and not the start of building construction, which will be carried out only at the end of a planning process that will continue for a long time yet.

“In the meantime, we’re asking for [temporary] relief. From here, from the hostel in Ofra, we ask the attorney general and the prime minister to allow us to live in trailer homes in a temporary location at Amichai until we can move to permanent homes, whose building won’t be finished for a long time.”

The UK, France and Germany slammed the plans for the new settlement in March, reflecting the international community’s view that it is illegal for Israel to build on any lands taken during the 1967 Six Day War.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on March 8, 2017.(Kobi Gideon / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 8, 2017.(Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement: “These announcements are contrary to international law and seriously undermine the prospects of two states for two peoples. As a strong friend of Israel, and one prepared to stand up for Israel when it faces bias and unreasonable criticism, I urge Israel not to take steps such as these, which move us away from our shared goal of peace and security and make it harder to achieve a different relationship between Israel and the Arab world.”

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