Israel boosts plan to build 3,900 new settler homes

Israel boosts plan to build 3,900 new settler homes
2 min read
24 May, 2018
Israel's defence minister said that thousands of new settlement units would be given final approval for construction as early as next week.
Israelis are incentivised to move to illegal settlements by cheap housing and financial rewards [Getty]
Israel's defence minister announced on Wednesday that authorities are set to grant permission for the construction of thousands of new settler homes - deemed illegal under international law - in the occupied West Bank as early as next week, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli right-wing hardliner Lieberman said authorities have approved the construction of 2,500 new settler homes with plans for 1,400 new units on occupied Palestinian land.

"We promised to advance building in Judea and Samaria and we kept our word," Lieberman said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names favoured by pro-settlement Israelis keen to erase Palestinian identity from the territory.

Israel's plans fly in the face of international efforts to curb settlement building, which is seen as a major obstacle to peace in the region.

Lieberman's announcement comes two days after the Palestinian Authority's Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to "open an immediate investigation" into Israel's war crimes against Palestinians.

This would include into the continued settlement construction and Palestinian home demolition in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that Israel is continuing its construction projects aimed at consolidating its control over East Jerusalem and Area C, which make up more than 60 percent of the West Bank.

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He also told the council that no new settlement approvals had been made in the past month. 

"I have to note that no settlements plans were approved and no new tenders were issued in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the reporting period," Mladenov said. 

"Settlement construction in Area C and East Jerusalem, however, has continued, and the Israeli government has approved major plans focused on solidifying its control of East Jerusalem," he added.

Members of Israel's ruling right-wing coalition have been pushing for official Israeli sovereignty over Area C, which constitutes around 61 percent of the West Bank that is under Israeli civil and military control.

Lieberman said the final approval for settlements would be given as follows: 400 new units in Ariel, 460 in Ma'aleh Adumim, 180 in Talmon, 170 in Neve Daniel, 160 in Kfar Etzion, 130 in Tene Omarim, 130 in Avnei Hefetz, 150 in Kiryat Arba, 80 in Hinanit, 60 in Neve Tzof, 45 in Ma'aleh Efraim and 40 in Alfei Menashe.