The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria advanced or approved plans for 2,166 settler homes when it met Wednesday, according to a report from the office of the Coordinator for Governmental Affairs in the Territories (COGAT).The council, which convened for the first time since February, is scheduled to meet again on Thursday – the day the Knesset is set to approve the normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates – to advance or approve another 2,500 housing units. Israel has agreed to suspend any plans to annex West Bank settlements as part of its deal with the UAE and has not set a date when it would apply sovereignty.Until Wednesday, settlers had feared that building plans would also be frozen, but their advancement has assuaged some of those fears.Ir Amim, the left-wing NGO, warned that approval of the plans was a form of “de facto annexation,” particularly of greater Jerusalem “along the lines laid out by the Trump Plan.”According to Peace Now, another left-wing NGO, some of the approvals relate to past projects, so the number of new units amounts to 1,877, of which 682 were advanced and 1,195 were approved.About half the homes under discussion on Wednesday and Thursday are 1,100 units near Jerusalem. The largest of those projects was the approval of 560 new homes in the Har Gilo settlement; their construction would significantly increase the size of the small settlement of 1,568 residents.Plans for 200 new homes in the Metzad settlement were approved, including for 120 homes at the Peni Kedem outpost that will be a neighborhood in that larger community.Metzad is one of 15 settlements that would be turned into an enclave in a future Palestinian state under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said: “The mission to develop communities in Judea and Samaria continues to be one of the key issues for the State of Israel and the entire nation in this era, and we are grateful for the right to be at the forefront here in Gush Etzion.”Tension has been high between the Yesha Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months. The council pressured Netanyahu to hold the meeting, and did not release any statement.“Sometimes we take our prime minister to task, which we feel is justified as a result of our disappointment in postponing the application of sovereignty over our country," Ne’eman said. "But now something tangible is happening – we are building and developing our communities," he said. "And of course, today's highlight is the full registration in the Land Authority of the young community of Pnei Kedem, 20 years since it was established."