Bennett advances 1,800 new settler homes, says won’t give land to Arabs
The list of projects that were advanced include the approval of a master plan for 620 homes in the Eli settlement and a 2 million sq.m. industrial park off of Rt. 5 in the West Bank's Samaria Region.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett swore he would “not give one inch of land” to the Palestinians, as he announced Thursday the advancement of plans for 1,800 new homes in West Bank settlements.“We authorized many [housing] units in the settlements, and we will continue to do so in the future,” Bennett said, as he took the opportunity to make a number of subtle digs at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.“We also have to act this way when it comes to sovereignty,” Bennett said, speaking after Thursday's meeting of the IDF’s Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria.Bennett and Netanyahu are vying for right-wing votes in the final lead up to the March 2 election.Bennett has accused Netanyahu of making promises he will never fulfill and has pushed him in particular not to delay the application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements. Netanyahu has a strong record of advancing settler housing projects since US President Donald Trump’s entry into office in 2017, but Bennett spoke as if he had just broken some new deadlock.“For years it was explained to the settlers why everything [with regard to the building projects was] complicated and stuck in bureaucracy,” Bennett said, adding that he was putting a stop to those kinds of excuses.“We are no longer in the discourse of evacuation and a freeze but in the mode of expansion and construction,” Bennett said. “Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is one of the building blocks of Zionism in the State of Israel. It is our pride. Instead of stopping it, we will continue to advance it.”On the list of projects that were advanced was the approval of a master plan for 620 homes in the Eli settlement.It’s a move that allows for the retroactive legalization of homes in the community and the advancement of other projects, save for those on private Palestinian property that are under adjudication by the High Court of Justice.Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz said, "This is a day of celebration for [Judea and Samaria]. The settlement of Eli can now develop, grow and prosper. The plan’s approval restores justice after many years of injustice to the hundreds of residents who legally purchased their homes.“We expect the government to advance the regulation of additional neighborhoods in Eli that are not included in the approved master plan.”The council also approved for deposit a plan for the construction of a hi-tech industrial park with two million square meters of business space called Sha’ar HaShomron, which will be located off of Route 5 in the Samaria Region of the West Bank. Space for educational buildings and a sports complex will also be attached to the project.According to the left-wing group Peace Now, 1,036 of the homes were approved for deposit and another 703 were validated, this included the 620 units in Eli, as well as 48 in Har Bracha and 73 in Givat Ze’ev.Plans that were approved for deposit were; 534 units for the Shvut Rachel neighborhood of the Shiloh settlement, 156 for Tzofim, 110 homes for Alon Shvut, 106 for Ma'aleh Shomron, 105 for Nokdim and 24 for Karnei Shomron.Peace Now said of the plans, “The caretaker government, without a public and moral mandate, sets facts on the ground for a small and extreme minority, against the will of the majority. In the battle over the settler right-wing vote, Bennett and Netanyahu are dragging Israel to invest in thousands of harmful and unnecessary settlement units. This is how a cynical and irresponsible leadership that is willing to abandon the Israeli interest for its political survival behaves."Yesha Council and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani thanks Netanyahu, Bennett and their staff for the advancements. He warned right-wing politicians, however, that the residents of Judea and Samaria expected any new government that was formed to continue to build and develop their region.