Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday approved for deposit plans for the
construction of 296 homes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El with the Higher
Planning Council of Judea and Samaria.
The Civil Administration must now
advertise the plans in a newspaper, after which begins a 60-day period for the
public to register objections, before the plans receive final approval from the
According to the Civil
Administration, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will need to sign off on the
final plans before construction can begin.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu promised to build the homes in June, as part of a deal reached with 33
living in the Ulpana outpost located at the outskirts of the
settlement, whose homes were slated for demolition as the result of a High Court
of Justice ruling.
The settlers agreed to leave their homes without
physical resistance, in exchange for a pledge by government officials to build
296 new homes.
News that the plans had been deposited came amidst a
flurry of renewed diplomatic activity to re-start direct negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinians.
It also comes amidst a claim by settlers
that Netanyahu has frozen new construction tenders for public housing projects
in four settlements; Efrat, Ariel, Givat Ze’ev and Karnei Shomron.
Ofran of Peace Now said that freezing tenders for government-funded projects in
the settlements has a very limited impact on West Bank settlement
Much of the construction is private and does not require
tenders, she said.
There are many settlement-building projects in the
pipeline, which have all their approvals, she added.
Yigal DelMonti, a
spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza
Strip, said he didn’t understand why every bureaucratic step of the building
process made headlines.
The project, he said, had already been announced,
and approvals had not been given.
“There is nothing new here,” he
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, however, described the move as
proof that Israel is trying to sabotage US efforts to revive the peace process,
Israel Radio reported.Jpost.com staff contributed to this report