The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria pushed the plans forward during a two-day meeting, by the completion of which on Thursday some 7,000 plans total will have been advanced, the Yesha Council said.
It is the largest number of settler housing plans Israel has advanced in a single week, according to the Yesha Council, which celebrated the decisions taken by the Higher Planning Council.
“After months of a freeze, the advancement of the plans will release a bottleneck and restore development in all areas of Judea and Samaria,” Yesha CEO Sarah Liebman said as she thanked the government.
The council advanced plans for 12,159 new settler homes during the Trump administration in 2020 and 8,547 new homes in 2019, according to data from the left-wing group Peace Now.But those numbers dropped sharply when US President Joe Biden entered office, with the council advancing plans for only 3,645 settler homes in 2021 and 4,427 homes in 2022.
But those numbers dropped sharply when US President Joe Biden entered office, with the council advancing plans for only 3,645 settler homes in 2021 and 4,427 homes in 2022.
The plans that were advanced on Wednesday make up some, but not all of the gap between the rapid pace with which plans moved forward during the last two years of the Trump administration and the slow rate by which they have, until now, been pushed ahead under Biden.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government has been clear about its intention to push forward with settlement activity despite stiff opposition from the United States and the international community. The United Nations Security Council on Monday issued a rare consensus statement against Israeli settlement activity with US backing. It did so in advance of the council meeting and in protest of Israel’s authorization last week of 10 outposts into nine new settlements.
UNSC condemns settlement activity
On Wednesday, despite the condemnation, the planning council pushed forward with the advancement of plans, including a master plan for the recently created settlement of Mevot Yericho in the Jordan Valley.
The small community had initially been an outpost created over two decades ago. Netanyahu’s previous government had authorized the outpost in September 2019, during a special government meeting it held in the Jordan Valley. In that meeting, Netanyahu promised he would annex the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, a move that has not happened.
But the Higher Planning Council’s approval on Wednesday of a master plan for 180 homes in Mevo Yericho completes the authorization process.
The council also advanced plans for 433 homes in a new neighborhood of the Elazar settlement in the Gush Etzion region.
The neighborhood will be built at the site of the Netiv Ha’avot outpost. The approval of the housing plan authorizes that fledgling community made famous in 2018 when 15 families were evacuated from homes that were retroactively discovered to have been built on private Palestinian property.
The council also approved plans for more than 550 additional homes in the Gush Etzion region, including the transformation of the Pnei Kedem outpost into a neighborhood of the Asfar settlement
Yesha Council head Shlomo Ne’eman, who also heads the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said, “Today we are privileged to close the circle that started exactly six years ago, when I assumed the role of council chairman. Back then the court responded to those trying to save their homes by destroying. Today, that ‘curse’ became a blessing with the new approvals.”
Ne’eman concluded, “Today’s approval of over 400 units, to be built alongside the 68 homes currently in Netiv Ha’avot, along with the other approvals throughout Gush Etzion and Judea and Samaria as a whole, is a tremendous boost.”