Report: Cabinet approved permits for 700 Palestinian homes in Area C

The right-wing NGO Regavim, which is in the middle of campaign against illegal Palestinian construction in Area C, also denounced Netanyahu’s actions.

July 30, 2019 22:42
3 minute read.

EFRAT AT sunset. ‘The positions expressed by those who spoke at the ceremony in Gush Etzion were way out of any national consensus.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The security cabinet approved permits for 700 Palestinian homes in Area C of the West Bank, KAN news reported on Tuesday night.

It is likely that the projects would still need approval from the Civil Administration.

The Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on the report. It followed an initial KAN report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security cabinet meeting to promote a Palestinian building plan for Area C in advance of a visit by US envoy Jared Kushner.

A government official told The Jerusalem Post that discussion had been held for 700 housing units for Palestinians in Area C and for an additional 6,000 units for West Bank settlements.

Approvals for such a large number of Palestinian building permits are rare. Right-wing politicians and settler leaders hold that they are in a territorial battle with the Palestinian Authority for Area C. They have opposed the issuance of permits and have railed against illegal Palestinian building in Area C.

Some settler leaders were concerned that the sudden approval of such a project was the result of pressure from Washington.

“If it’s true that this is an American demand, then we expect our government to say loud and clear – enough!,” Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman said. The prime minister “must stop the delusional demands of our great friend [US President Donald Trump]” who, if he is a friend, would understand,” he added.

Neeman called for the government to annex Area C of the West Bank rather than pave the way for Palestinian development.

MK Ofir Sofer from the United Right accused Netanyahu of abetting the PA takeover of Area C with the financial support of the European Union. Sofer called on right-wing voters to prevent the prime minister from moving to the Left of the political map after the September 17 election by supporting his party at the polls. “We need to be as strong as possible,” Sofer said.

Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz and Samaria Council head Yossi Dagan said that they hoped Netanyahu’s Palestinian construction plan, “does not, heaven forbid, signal the direction the government will take after the elections.”

They warned that the PA was already carrying out a massive amount of illegal construction in Area C, with the “clear goal of establishing a terrorist state in the heart of the country.”

The right-wing NGO Regavim, which is in the middle of campaign against illegal Palestinian construction in Area C, also denounced Netanyahu’s actions.

“We hope that this report is inaccurate, and that the cabinet did not focus on approving a plan that plays into the hands of Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas], a plan that will serve as the silver platter on which he will be handed the terrorist state in the heart of Israel he has dreamed of establishing,” the group said in a statement.

The KAN report follows last week’s demolition of 12 Palestinian multi-family apartment buildings in Wadi Hummus, just outside east Jerusalem, because they were built within 400 m. of the West Bank security fence.

The Obama administration had pushed Netanyahu to approve Palestinian construction in Area C as a gesture to the Palestinians. Israel has created numerous plans for Palestinians in Area C, but has approved very little construction.

The Trump administration has not publicly chastised Netanyahu for the lack of Palestinian building permits, nor has it criticized it for continued settlement building.

Yet, according to KAN, the Civil Administration has also delayed a planned meeting this week of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which was set to advance settlement building.

Kushner will arrive to the Middle East, in part to advance the political part of the Trump administration’s peace plan. Both Arab and European states have warned the US that the plan should not deviate from agreed upon parameters of two states for two peoples.

The Trump administration has said it does not feel tied to those parameters.

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