The Palestinian Authority and the UN on Wednesday condemned Israeli plans to
authorize the Shvut Rachel outpost and 180 homes in the Shiloh settlement, both
located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
“Once again the Israeli
government has chosen settlement expansion over peace,” Chief PLO negotiator
Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio in an interview from
Israel is responsible for dooming the efforts of the international
community to advance the peace process, he said. “We call on the international
community and in particular the Quartet to hold Israel accountable [for its
actions],” he said.
Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the
Middle East peace process, said, these actions are “deplorable and move us
further away from the goal of a two-state solution.”
He noted that the UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had chastised Israel for such activity during his
visit earlier this month.
“The secretary-general reiterated the UN’s
well-known position that settlement activity is illegal, contrary to Israel’s
obligations under the road map and will not be recognized by the international
He made his statements after the Civil Administration of
Judea and Samaria’s Higher Planning Council on Wednesday advanced zoning plans
The settlement was founded in 1979 and is home to 2,200
people. But according to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, 180 homes in the settlement
In addition, Ofran said, there are 93 unauthorized
homes in the nearby Shvut Rachel outpost, which was founded in
Final approval of a zoning plan for both for the settlement and the
outpost would retroactively legalize all existing homes in the two
In 2011, Peace Now filed separate petitions against what it
called illegal construction in Shiloh and Shvut Rachel.
The petition did
not address then-completed structures, but rather foundations that had been laid
for 20 new housing units in Shvut Rachel and 28 in Shiloh, according to
In the interim, the Shiloh homes have been completed, she said. In
November, the state said that it planned to retroactively legalize those homes
through the approval of proper zoning plans.
The Defense Ministry’s
settlement adviser, Eitan Broshi, said that the Higher Planning Council’s
actions on Wednesday were part of that process.
He clarified that the
council’s actions on Wednesday moved the plans to the next level in the
bureaucratic process, but that it could still take several months before the
plans received final approval.
Broshi took issue with Peace Now’s
designation of the construction as illegal, and with the description of Shvut
Rachel as an outpost, although it was classified as such in the report which
attorney Talia Sasson presented to the government in 2005.
is a neighborhood of the Shiloh settlement,” he said.
The new zoning
plan, he said, corrects a technical problem for homes in Shiloh, including in
the Shvut Rachel neighborhood, that do not have all the proper
All the homes in question were built on state land and should
be authorized, Broshi said.
But Peace Now has said that authorization of
Shvut Rachel would be tantamount to the creation of a new settlement, breaking a
pledge by Israel to the international community.
Peace Now also objects
to the zoning plan, saying it provides a path for the construction of 515 new
homes in Shiloh and Shvut Rachel.
If these homes are authorized, it would
more than double the size of both communities, Ofran said.
government is giving a prize to building violators and continuing the system by
which every time the settlers build without permits, the government approves the
construction and allows them even more construction,” Peace Now
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is burying the twostate
solution and turning an illegal outpost into a settlement with thousands of
residents deep in the West Bank,” Peace Now said.
But Broshi said that
approval of the zoning plane would not authorize new
Additional Defense Ministry approvals were needed to
advance any new construction outlined in the zoning plans, he said.
stressed that that authorization of the zoning plans affected only those homes
that had already been built or for which foundations had already been
The Palestinians oppose all Israeli settlement activity, and insist
that they will only engage in direct, formal negotiations with Israel if it
halts Jewish building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
called for direct talks without pre-conditions.