A Palestinian laborer works on a construction site in the new Palestinian town dubbed Rawabi or "The Hills", near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Samaria Regional Council intends to file an immediate objection to IDF plans to expand the municipal boundaries of the city of Kalkilya and include 14,000 new homes in Area C of the West Bank.
The council and right-wing politicians are concerned the move will allow that territory to become part of a Palestinian state in any final-status agreement for a two-state solution.
Channel 2 first reported the story on Wednesday night, which was confirmed by the Samaria Regional Council and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The report comes amid reports that the US would like to see Israel approve Palestinian construction in Area C and hand over portions of that territory to the Palestinian Authority.
Area C is under Israeli military and civil control. All the Palestinian cities, including Kalkilya, are under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and are located in Area A of the West Bank.
“Has this government gone completely crazy?” asked Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who first learned of the Kalkilya expansion plans by chance while visiting the Civil Administration. His office has sent out the plans to the media.
“This kind of double-faced conversation can’t continue,” Dagan said. “The government can’t continue to contend in the morning that it is doing everything possible for the settlement enterprise, but then halt building in Judea and Samaria. Nor can it turn around in the evening and approve Palestinian building.”
Dagan has been among Netanyahu’s fiercest critics in the last few weeks, attacking the prime minister for not approving enough construction in Judea and Samaria, explaining that his actions are tantamount to a de facto freeze.
Beyit Yehudi party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, along with fellow party member Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also decried the purported West Bank housing proposal, releasing a joint statement claiming the plan fails to "promote Israeli interests" in the area.
"We oppose this 'carrot and stick' plan which remains a program that rewards terror while it ensures the Palestinian takeover of Area C," the statement reads.
"The Israeli government must promote Israel's interests in Judea and Samaria, not the Palestinians," using the biblical terminology to refer to the West Bank.
The Beyit Yehudi ministers also insisted on implementing a "freeze" to the plan until a "renewed cabinet" can discuss the issue or institute a parallel plan that ensures 14,000 homes can be allocated to Israelis.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said that Israel authorized or advanced more than 8,000 settler homes this year, more than at any other since in the last 25 years. But the plans only impact 34 settlements, leaving 96 Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria without any construction.
On Wednesday night the Prime Minister’s Office said in response that the plans had been put forward by the defense minister and approved by the security cabinet last year.
The PMO said that it was “absurd” and “incorrect” to claim Netanyahu was authorizing Palestinian building at the expense of Jewish building in Area C.
Since the plans were proposed, some 10,000 homes have been approved or advanced in Judea and Samaria, the PMO said.