Israeli plans for 2,300 new settlement homes slammed as 'dangerous' by rights group

Israeli plans for 2,300 new settlement homes slammed as 'dangerous' by rights group
Israeli authorities have approved a record number of new settler homes this year, while demolishing a record number of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
3 min read
31 October, 2019
Over 8,000 new settler homes have been approved this year, the highest ever [Getty]
Israel has approved the construction of 2,342 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Thursday.
It said the decision was taken on 10 October and that 59 percent of the new homes will be erected in "settlements that Israel likely may evacuate under a peace agreement" with the Palestinians.

However Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has already expressed his desire to annex West Bank settlements as part of his right-wing election pledges.

The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has also affirmed that the White House's peace plan for the region will not involve evacuating any settlers.

According to Peace Now, which closely monitors Israeli settlement building, plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year.

It said this represented an increase of close to 50 percent compared with 2018 when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved.
Click to enlarge

"This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since President Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them," said the NGO.

All settlements are considered illegal under international law and are built on land that the Palestinians see as part of their future state, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.

Peace Now said that settlement construction has increased under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after failing to form a coalition government following September elections.

"Netanyahu continues to sabotage the possibility of a political agreement with the Palestinians by promoting more settlement construction in the West Bank, including in places where Israel may have to evacuate as part of a future agreement," Peace Now said.

Included in the 2,342 new housing units are 182 that are due to be built in Mevoot Yericho, a former outpost near Jericho which the Netanyahu government legalised before the September polls, Peace Now said.

Ramping up the construction of settlement homes "is yet another dangerous step for both Israel and the Palestinians, led by a transitional prime minister whom the public did not trust in his policies.

Comment: Israel's settler violence reeks of international impunity

"The next government must put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples," Peace Now added.
Read more: Israeli settlement outposts in occupied West Bank surge
under Trump

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has tasked ex-military chief Benny Gantz to form a government after Netanyahu failed to set up a coalition for the second time this year.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.

In a rare move, the Israeli government approved the construction of 700 new homes for Palestinians in August, allegedly as a concession to the White House ahead of its long-awaited peace plan roll-out.

However the figure is a far cry from the more than tenfold number of new homes approved for Israeli settlers in 2019 alone.

Israel seldom grants permits for Palestinians to build homes in Area C, which constitutes 61 percent of the West Bank and where most settlements are built.

By contrast, a record number of Palestinian homes have been demolished in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

The group counted 140 demolitions this year, leaving 238 Palestinians homeless, the highest figure since its records began in 2004.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected