Israel announce plans for 1,029 new housing units in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
The Israel land authority recently issued tenders for new housing units in three areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, despite commitments Israel made in Sharm El Sheikh on 19 March "to stop discussion of any new settlement units for four months and to stop authorisation of any outposts for six months."
In the new tenders, the Israel land authority allocated 940 housing units to the illegal Jewish settlements of Efrat and Beitar Ilit near Bethlehem. In Beitar Illit, 747 housing units are being planned in 11 different complexes, most of them for a program encouraging young families to purchase their first home.
In Efrat, between Bethlehem and al-Khalil (Hebron), 193 housing units are planned.
The Israel Land Authority also published another tender for 89 housing units in the Gilo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
In total, 1,029 housing units in the West Bank were announced mere days after Israel pledged to refrain from authorising new settlements - deemed illegal by international law - in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"This is yet another harmful and unnecessary construction initiative as part of the messianic coup unfolding alongside the regime coup. The most extreme right-wing government in the history of the country is not only trampling on democracy but also on the possibility of a future political agreement and on our relations with the US and friendly countries. Lies and violations of these commitments are a sure way to turn Israel into an isolated country," the Israeli settlement watch group Peace Now said.
On 21 March, the Israeli Knesset passed legislation allowing Israelis to enter and stay in four Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank evacuated in 2005 as part of the "Gaza Disengagement" plan implemented during the tenure of Ariel Sharon, the then-prime minister.
The legislation drew condemnation from the United States, Israel's closest ally.
"The United States is extremely troubled that the Israeli Knesset has passed legislation rescinding important parts of the 2005 disengagement law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank. At least one of these outposts in this area, Homesh, was built on private Palestinian land, which is illegal under Israeli law," the US department of state said.
More than half a million Jewish settlers live in 132 government-sanctioned settlements in the occupied West Bank. An additional 146 settlement outposts, built since the 1990s without Israeli government approval, dot the West Bank. In addition, some 340,000 Jewish settlers live in occupied East Jerusalem.
All settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war.