Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R.
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
The IDF this week advanced plans for 1,225 settler homes, which if approved
would greatly expand the size of the West Bank settlements of Itamar and
There is now a 60-day period for the public to file objections,
after which another authorization phase is needed before building can
The plans’ advancement is consistent with the action of Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s third government.
It has allowed the
bureaucratic process of West Bank settlement building plans to continue in spite
of a push by the United States to rekindle direct Israeli and Palestinian talks,
which have been largely frozen since December 2008.
But to help the US
foster a climate for renewed talks, Israel has agreed to a de-facto freeze on
new tenders in West Bank settlements and Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhoods. No
new housing tenders have been issued over the pre-1967 lines since January, even
though according to Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel there are
thousands of such tenders ready for final authorization.
Zoning plans for
675 homes were deposited for review to the Higher Planning Council of Judea and
Samaria on Wednesday, including for 137 illegal homes that have already been
built. Approval of the zoning plan would automatically authorize those homes. In
addition, the zoning plan calls for the construction of 538 new
Itamar has a population of 1,181 according to the Central Bureau
of Statistics’ 2011 census.
The new construction would significantly
increase the size of the settlement, located in the Samaria region of the West
Bank. It is 20 kilometers away from the pre-1967 line and outside the boundaries
of the security barrier.
On Sunday, zoning plans for 550 new homes were
deposited with the council for Bruchin located five kilometers away from the
pre-1967 lines in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Last year the
government agreed to transform Bruchin from an outpost into a legal
Once the council approves a zoning plan for Bruchin, the 56
homes located there would retroactively be legalized.