Heavy machinery work on a field as they begin construction work of Amichai, a new settlement which will house some 300 Jewish settlers evicted in February from the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona, in the West Bank June 20, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israel intends to advance the plans for 3,900 new settler homes in the aftermath of a diplomatic assault against the country by the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinians demand full investigation into Israel at Hague ICC court, May 22, 2018 (Reuters)
“We are continuing the momentum to develop settlements in Judea and Samaria by authorizing thousands of new homes,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday. “In the near future we will approve additional units.”
He spoke just two days after PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki
urged the International Criminal Court at The Hague to open a war crimes case against Israel for such activity.
Last Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to launch a commission of inquiry into Israeli actions against Palestinians at the Gaza Border. The PA has also been pushing the UN to send an international force to protect Palestinians from Israel.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat charged that Netanyahu’s settlement-building announcement was “the actual Israeli response to the ICC submission” and other Palestinian activity on the international stage.
Israel is sending a message that it “is above the laws of man, is above the UNSC, is above the ICC [and] is above the UNHRC,” said Erekat, who also serves as secretary-general of the PLO’s Executive Committee.
This is the reason that the ICC must immediately open a case against Israel, he said. “This cannot go on. Israel cannot continue business as usual with this impunity and immunity that they think they have.”
On Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that Israel had not initiated any new settlement activity in the last month.
“I have to note that no settlement 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.”
On Thursday morning, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria will meet next week to approve and advance projects in 30 Jewish communities in the West Bank.
This will include final approvals or tenders for 2,500 new homes and the advancement of plans for an additional 1,400 homes.
It is unclear how many of these projects are entirely new and how many are part of the almost 10,000 homes for which plans were advanced or finalized last year.
Settlers hesitated to react to the announcement before having more information about the list.
Liberman’s office and the Higher Planning Council have provided only partial information with regard to the plan.
An initial list of plans for settler homes includes: 400 homes for Ariel; 460 for Ma’aleh Adumim; 180 for Talmon; 170 for Neve Daniel; 160 for Kfar Etzion; 130 for Teneh Omarim; 130 for Avnei Hefetz; 150 for Kiryat Arba; 80 for Hinanit; 60 for Neve Tzuf; 45 for Ma’aleh Efraim; and 40 for Alfei Menashe.
Netanyahu made sure to single out Ma’aleh Adumim, the third largest settlement in the West Bank, which has not received much of its needed housing approvals during his tenure, saying it would now be able to build hundreds of units.
Liberman added: “We promised to advance building in Judea and Samaria and we kept our word.”
MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) condemned the move, saying: “Liberman, who claims to be working in coordination with the defense establishment, knows that the decision to build thousands of housing units in the West Bank is contrary to Israel’s security and political interests.”
Peretz, a former defense minister, said: “Only separation between Israel and the Palestinians will ensure our future as a Jewish, democratic and secure Israel.”
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said: “It is evident that the recent provocative and unlawful moves adopted by the United States, Guatemala and Paraguay have emboldened Israel to move forward with enhancing its illegal settlement enterprise, thereby finalizing the total annexation of the occupied West Bank.”