Israel’s Defense Ministry has authorized plans for the construction of more than 2,300 homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), following sessions of the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee on Monday and Tuesday.
According to reports, 838 homes passed all stages of construction approval, with another 1,466 approved in the early planning stage. The majority were approved for smaller Jewish communities as opposed to major blocs.
The permits will provide retroactive legalization to Givat Salit in the northern Jordan Valley; Ibei Hanahal in the Judean Desert southeast of Bethlehem; and Haroeh Ha’ivri east of Jerusalem, which was approved for an educational campus.
The move was condemned by the European Union. In a statement, an EU spokesperson said : ‘’The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.’’
715 building permits for Palestinians in Area C
The approvals come after Israel’s security cabinet last month approved a plan to grant 715 building permits to Palestinians in Israel-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria, despite decades of policy in which Israel has limited such allowances due to the ability of Arabs to build in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas instead.
According to the EU statemetn, ‘’the Palestinian population living in Area C continues to face repeated confiscations, demolitions, displacements and land expropriation, while almost all of their submitted master plans and building permits for Palestinian development remain unapproved.’’
The EU said it ‘’expects the Israeli authorities to fully meet their obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development. ‘’
‘’The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties,’’ the statement concluded.
The July plan to grant 715 building permits to Palestinians in area C, which is fully under control of Israel, sparked outrage among right-wing Israeli political circles, and several ministers demanded that the permits be contingent on the provision of 6,000 building permits for Israelis in Judea and Samaria.
Pro-Palestinian organization Peace Now decried the approvals, saying they “prevent the possibility of peace.”
Prior to Israel’s April elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.