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.

The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria would not comment on the project or explain if additional approvals were needed before building could commence.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said it had all the necessary approvals, save building permits.

She said she believed building there could start within a few months.

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