As Border Police continued to evacuate Amona on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the establishment of a committee that would work to advance the building of a settlement in Judea and Samaria.This would be the first new government-authorized settlement in the West Bank since the establishment of Revava near Ariel in 1991, when Yitzhak Shamir was prime minister.According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the committee – which is to begin work immediately in order to locate state land for the establishment of the settlement – will include Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, and representatives from the settlement movement and the Defense Ministry.The announcement came less than 24 hours after Israel announced the advancement and/or authorization of 3,000 homes in other settlements. That announcement, issued Tuesday night by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, came just minutes after the order came for the evacuation of Amona.About “2,000 units are ready for immediate marketing, and the remaining are in different stages, in which [plans] will be deposited and/or validated,” the Defense Ministry notice said.This announcement follows last week’s declaration of the advancement and authorization of 2,500 units in West Bank settlements, and another 550 in neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line.“We’re in a new era where life in Judea and Samaria is returning to its normal course,” Liberman said. The back-to-back announcements of more than 6,000 units within a single week is almost unprecedented, and triggered condemnations from the UN, the EU and France.
The US, however, was noticeably quiet on the matter, breaking with Washington’s practice over the last eight years to condemn nearly all announcements of construction in the settlements or in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line. The settlement issue is expected to be high on the agenda of Netanyahu’s talks with US President Donald Trump on February 15.Efforts are also under way to organize a meeting next week in London between Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May.This would be their first meeting since May became prime minister last July.According to the list of the 3,000 units provided by the Defense Ministry, the authorizations are as follows: 700 units in Alfei Menashe; 600 in Betar Illit; 650 in Beit Aryeh; 200 in Oranit; 50 in Nofim; 150 in Givat Ze’ev; 150 in Nokdim; 70 in Shavei Shomron; 100 in Karnei Shomron; 100 in Shiloh; 100 in Metzudat Yehuda; 80 in Kfar Eldad; 50 in Oranit; and 30 in Efrat.Most of the units are close to the pre-1967 lines and within the settlement blocs.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement expressing “concern” over the recent announcement.“We once again warn against any unilateral actions that can be an obstacle to a negotiated two-state solution and call on both parties to return to meaningful negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and in accordance with international law, in order to address all final-status issues. The United Nations stands ready to support this process,” he said. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was even more critical, saying the recent announcements “mark a very worrying trend, posing a direct challenge to the prospects of a viable two-state solution, which is increasingly difficult and risks becoming impossible.”Mogherini said the EU “is strongly opposed to this policy and deeply regrets that Israel is proceeding with this, despite continuous serious international concern and objections, which have been constantly raised at all levels.”A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said that Israel announced in a week twice as many new housing units as it did in all of 2016. He also said that Paris “strongly condemns” the decision, and noted that it is contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that passed in December.He noted that on January 15, 75 countries which attended the Paris conference said that a twostate solution is the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and called upon both sides to show commitment to that solution and to refrain from unilateral steps.
Israeli legislators advance revised bill to legalise settlements