Israel ignored the condemnations of its allies and moved Tuesday advance plans for new West Bank settler homes, for what is expected to be a total package of 10,000 new units.
Hours after five of its major allies — the United States, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom — issued a joint statement against Israeli settlement activity, the IDF’s Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria said that it intended to convene on February 22 to advance new building projects.
The publication of its agenda for that meeting came just two days after the security cabinet authorized the transformation of ten outposts into nine new settlements.
Although many of the settlements were in the process of authorization, it is unusual for an Israeli cabinet to approve any new settlement, let alone a group of nine.
“We strongly oppose these unilateral actions,” the five countries stated adding that such steps “only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution.” The joint communique was issued at the foreign ministerial level.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said that the Biden administration was working together with Israel’s allies to jointly express their collective displeasure over settlement activity.
Among the regions to receive a boost, is the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement whose Mayor Benny Kashriel is expecting to receive authorization for 1,080 new units. The Binyamin Regional Council said it expects the advancement of plans for 2,000 new homes.
Palestinian Authority pushes for diplomatic moves against Israel
The rising tension between the US and Israel over settlement activity also comes as the Palestinian Authority has made another push for the Security Council to condemn Israel.
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour wrote a letter to the security council president already on Monday asking for action.
“The [Security] Council must speak with one voice to send a clear and firm message to Israel, the occupying Power, that its grave violations will not be tolerated, that it must cease all illegal policies and measures forthwith, and that it will face accountability for its flagrant contempt of international law and the international community,” Mansour said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on Tuesday wrote a letter to the Security Council asking it to condemn the terror attacks against Israel which have claimed over 11 lives just in the last month. He remained the council that the Palestinian Authority supports such activity by providing monthly stipends to terrorists and their families.
“I call on the international community to condemn the latest terror attacks against Israeli civilians in the strongest and unequivocal terms. Those abhorrent crimes are being encouraged and applauded by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and PFLP among others,” Erdan said.
“The Palestinian Authority’s support for terror and violence is not only evident through official statements, parades and celebrations, but also with its material support – the “Pay for Slay” payments – provided by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families,” he added.
Israel is working to ensure that the United States exercises its veto power t the Security Council to prevent any statement of condemnation against the Jewish state.
But the rising international anger over settlements, with condemnations from the European Union as well as neighboring Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, has not determined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the pursuit of settlement activity, which he and his government view as a response to the rising terror attacks.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich dismissed international condemnation in a faction meeting of his Religious Zionist Party in Givat Harel, one of the pending new settlements.
As a minister in the Defense Ministry, he has authority over the Higher Planning Council.
"I was saddened to hear the condemnation of our good friends overseas,” Smotrich said. Israel’s hold on its ancestral land and the development of settlements there is worthy of praise. It should be considered a miracle and should not be condemned.
“There is no enterprise more just and moral than the Zionist enterprise and its continued advancement also in Judea and Samaria - the cradle of our homeland,” he said.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said that Israel had to put its foot on the gas rather than the breaks when it came to settlement activity.
Building "This is our mission. This our doctrine," Ben-Gvir said. "Nine settlements is nice but it's still not enough. We want much more," he said.
Yesha Council head Shlomo Neeman promised to work to ensure that the approvals would move forward and that there would be a construction boom in Judea and Samaria rather than a freeze.
Labor Party head MK Merav Michaeli, however, warned against ignoring the United States and other Israeli allies.
“Sweeping and profound condemnation from our close friends of the government's dangerous step.
“This is a matter of deep concern. It is no less worrying that those who are at the helm of Israel's government do not understand that these creeping and evil annexation measures are entirely contrary to Israel's security interests. Netanyahu and the frightful messianic coalition are creating a future for us that is a nightmare of bloody and never-ending conflict,” she said.