The Bennet government has approved the convening of the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration for authorizing thousands of new housing units for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, as well as the construction of hundreds of housing units for Palestinians. The Higher Planning Council will convene Tuesday, August 17, to discuss plans for five Palestinian villages involving the building of a total of 863 new housing units, according to an announcement by Israel’s Military Spokesman. The following day, Wednesday, August 18, the council will reconvene to discuss plans for constructing a total of 1,956 new units in 21 settlements.
Among the various plans being brought before the Planning Council for approval are massive expansions of housing in isolated settlements, such as: 377 housing units in Kedumim (near Nablus); 286 housing units in Har Bracha (adjacent to Nablus); and a plan for 399 housing units in Revava in the Salfit area. 62% of the housing units are being brought before the Planning Council for approval of the deposit phase, the first step in the planning process. The remaining 38% are being brought before the council for final approval.
In January 2021, the Higher Planning Council already approved plans for 780 housing units in settlements, followed by another 5 units in very small plans. Consequently, if all plans are approved this week, the number of housing units approved in settlements since the start of 2021 will be 2,741 housing units. By way of comparison, in 2020 Israel approved plans for a total of 12,159 new housing units in the settlements, only 253 of which were for Palestinians.
According to Peace Now, “The approval of thousands of housing units in the settlements harms Israeli interests and the chances of reaching peace. It seems that the [upcoming] approval of a handful of plans for the Palestinians is only intended to try to reduce criticism of the government and to please the US administration ahead of Prime Minister Bennett’s expected visit to Washington in the coming weeks. For years, Israel has pursued a policy of blatant discrimination that does not allow almost any construction for Palestinians in Area C, while in the settlements it encourages and promotes the construction of thousands of housing units each year for Israelis. The approval of a few hundred housing units for Palestinians cannot cover up discrimination and does not change the fact that Israel maintains an illegal regime of occupation and discrimination in the territories.”
Hadash reiterated last week that all settlements are illegal and must be dismantled. It went on to say in a statement that no settlement construction will be legitimized retroactively in the occupied Palestinian territories; and stressed that true peace and security are linked to the extent of the parties’ commitment to all international agreements and resolutions. The settlements are a blatant violation of all United Nations resolutions, foremost of which is UN Security Council resolution 2334, which clearly affirms the illegality of settlements in all Palestinian territories. “Where are you Meretz, Labor and Ra’am (Islamic Movement party)? Why are you part of the far-right government?” the Hadash spokesperson asked rhetorically.