The Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria approved 732 new homes in the
Modi’in Illit settlement on Wednesday, but at the last moment Defense Minister
Moshe Ya’alon pulled a number of projects in isolated West Bank settlements that
were pending approval.
The projects in the Jordan Valley and the Binyamin
region involved 320 new settler homes.
Jordan Valley Regional Council
head David Lahiani and Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro’eh wrote a protest
letter to Ya’alon.
They wrote that they were “disappointed” and “puzzled”
by his decision.
It can’t be that Israeli plans are halted while
Palestinian and European Union projects in Area C of the West Bank are advanced
at a rapid pace, Lahiani and Ro’eh wrote.
Lahiani charged that the move
was political and tied to efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to
rekindle direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.
“Once again we have caved into
American demands,” Lahiani said.
He charged that the government’s
continued lack of support for the settlement enterprise has allowed the
international community, including the European Union, to delegitimize Israel’s
presence in the West Bank.
Settlers expressed their fears that Ya’alon’s
decision to pull the project was an early indicator that Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu might agree to freeze building in isolated West Bank settlements, as a
pre-condition to the renewal of talks.
Modin Illit, in contrast, is
located on the pre-1967 line, and it is assumed that it would be part of Israel
in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.
Administration of Judea and Samaria would not comment on the project or explain
if additional approvals were needed before building could commence.
Ofran of Peace Now said it had all the necessary approvals, save building
She said she believed building there could start within a few