Israel to approve 5,400 new West Bank settlement units despite annexation 'freeze'

Israel to approve 5,400 new West Bank settlement units despite annexation 'freeze'
Netanyahu kept plans for major settlement expansion under wraps during the UAE-Bahrain normalisation agreements, Israeli media claims
2 min read
04 October, 2020
Netanyahu visits Gush Etzion, where thousands of new units are set to be added [Getty]
Israeli authorities are set to approve 5,400 new units in settlements across the West Bank, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

The move comes just weeks after the UAE claimed Israel would postpone its project to annex around 30 percent of West Bank territory and told Palestinians to be "happy" about its normalisation deal with Tel Aviv.

A formal session will be held on 12th October under the instruction of Prime Minister Netanyahu, in order to approve the construction plans and sign off their implementation.

The plans for expansion are reported to include over 2000 housing units in the ultra-orthodox Beitar Illit settlement near Jerusalem, as well as 629 in Eli, 560 in Gilo, 286 in Har Brakha, 181 in Einav, and 120 in Kedem, according to Israel Hayom.

Read also: 'Cultivating settlements': Israel's colonial expansion rebranded

Netanyahu delayed announcing the plans in recent weeks in order not to endanger the normalisation agreements with UAE and Bahrain, Israeli media suggested, citing a source close to the prime minister.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law and considered a major obstacle to any future peace deal.

The International Criminal Court has in recent months been attempting to open a war crimes investigation into Israeli activity in the West Bank and Gaza, which is said to include enquiries into Israel's building of settlements.

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