Peace Now: Israel advanced plans for 2,342 settler homes in October

October’s meeting was the third planning council session held this year to approval a large number of housing units. One more such meeting is expected to be held before the end of the year.

Palestinians argue with a Jewish settler during a protest against a new Jewish settlement outpost near Hebron, June 23, 2018 (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Palestinians argue with a Jewish settler during a protest against a new Jewish settlement outpost near Hebron, June 23, 2018
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
 Israel advanced and approved plans for 2,342 West Bank settler homes in October, the left-wing NGO Peace Now reported on Thursday.

Since the start of this year, 8,337 settlers units were advanced or approved, “an increase of close to 50% compared to 2018, when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved,” the group said.

“This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since President Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them,” said Peace Now.

The projects were approved by the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria earlier this month, but information about the approvals was only published this week. In addition, on October 30, the council approved a building permit to construct a new tunnel road bypassing the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, a move which will help increase the number of settlers in that area, Peace Now said.

October’s meeting was the third planning council session held this year to approval a large number of housing units. One more such meeting is expected to be held before the end of the year.

Some 48% of those October plans were for homes within the route of the security barrier, and 52% were for units outside the route of the barrier, in communities often referred to as isolated settlements.

Past US administrations had distinguished between isolated settlements and those constructed within the blocs. Since President Donald Trump came into office in 2017, neither the US or Israel has worried about that distinction.

Plans for 1,623 homes were advanced, including 609 units for Beitar Illit, 382 for Dolev and 182 for the newly approved settlement of Mevo’ot Yericho, according to Peace Now. It added that plans for 719 units were approved.

“The next government must put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples,” Peace Now said.

Israel has held that there is no connection between settlement building and peace talks. The process has been frozen as both sides wait for the publication of Trump’s peace plan, which the Palestinians have already said they plan to reject. 
The Trump administration is waiting for Israel to form a government before it publishes the plan.