IDF advanced plans for 1,225 new settler homes

If plans approved, W. Bank settlements Itamar, Bruchin would grow drastically; approval would authorize 137 illegal homes.

Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
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 Bruchin.
There is now a 60-day period for the public to file objections, after which another authorization phase is needed before building can begin.
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 homes.
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 settlement.
Once the council approves a zoning plan for Bruchin, the 56 homes located there would retroactively be legalized.