(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Plans for 98 new settler homes were advanced by the Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria, on Wednesday, according to the non-governmental group Peace Now.
It also approved a new industrial park outside of Ramallah, off of Route 443, Peace Now said.
The 98-homes are part of an unbuilt 300 unit project in the Shilo settlement, located to the neighborhood of Shvuet Rachel.
The project was initially intended to be used an alternative relocation site for the 40 families in the Amona outpost.
The High Court of Justice has ordered that that outpost must be razed by December 25th because they were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
The Amona families have in the past rejected the government’s offer for new home in Shiloh. The Amona outpost, was built in 1995 with a grant of NIS 2.1 million shekels from the Ministry of Housing and Construction. The Amona residents have argued that the grant, constitutes an initial governmental approval and as a result, the government has a responsibility to authorize their homes in their current location, on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement.
"Moving houses across the West Bank is yet another example of a law-breaking government switching one broken law with another using Isra-bluff," Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said. "The solution to stealing private land in Amona should not be building in the settlements. The government of Israel must decide between breaking the law in the settlements or a lasting peace for Israel."
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has sought to find an alternative relocation site for the families, in the Ofra area, but his efforts have yet to be successful.
Right-wing politicians have pledged to push forward a bill to retroactively legalize some 2,000 unauthorized homes in Judea and Samaria including those in Amona. The politicians hope that the bill’s passage would save the Amona homes, in spite of the HCJ’s decree.
In the interim, however, the state is also moving forward on authorization plans for a Shiloh relocation site for the Amona families.
Peace Now speculated that that the government hoped to sway the Amona families to move by offering to build 300 new homes.
The group noted that unless the project is fast-tracked, however, the Shilo project was unlikely to receive its final approvals by December 25th.
The international community is demanding that Israel halt its settlement activity, which is believes is a stumbling bloc to the resumption of any peace process with the Palestinians.
Israel in turn has argued that the only stumbling bloc the peace process is the Palestinians refusal to sit down and directly negotiation with Israel toward the creation of a final-status agreement that would allow for the creation of a two-state solution.