Netanyahu angers settlers by only advancing 1,400 homes

“A nationalist government should be expanding construction and not reducing it,” the YESHA Council said.

A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered settlers and right-wing politicians by only advancing plans for close to 1,400 new Jewish homes in West Bank settlements on Wednesday.
Rather than welcoming the new construction, the bulk of which was advanced by the Higher Planning Committee for Judea and Samaria on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu’s right-wing partners complained that it was far too little.
“This is the smallest number of units that the committee has advanced in the last year-and-a-half,” the settlers’ Yesha Council said.
“At past committee meetings some 2,000-3,000 housing units were advanced – and this number is small compared to the tens of thousands of housing units authorized throughout the country,” it said.
“A nationalist government should be expanding construction and not reducing it,” the Yesha Council said.
“We call upon the prime minister to remove [building] restrictions and to allow for construction throughout Judea and Samaria, just as it occurs in the rest of the country. This must be done today,” the Yesha Council demanded.
Land of Israel Caucus heads MKs Yoav Kisch and Bezalel Smotrich said they were particularly upset that the advancement of plans to legalize the two outposts Haro’eh Ha’ivri and Ibei Hanahal were removed from the agenda at the last minute.
“Given that the government decided to authorize fledgling communities [in Judea and Samaria], it must implement the decision more energetically and actively promote the regulation of these communities – and not go the opposite way [by delaying it],” the caucus said.
It added that at the next Knesset session in the fall it plans to push for passage of new legislation to authorize some 70 outposts.
Gush Etzion Council head Shlomo Ne’eman, in whose region the Ibei Hanahal outpost is located, said that his staff had worked for over a year to prepare this meeting. He blamed US pressure for the outpost’s removal from the agenda.
“It’s a terrible thing when the government orders a professional body to operated based on “overseas instructions,” he said.
The Higher Planning Council on Wednesday advanced 1,010 new units, of which the largest project was 370 new homes for the Geva Binyamin settlement, also known as Adam. A July terror attack in that community that borders Jerusalem claimed the life of Yotam Ovadia, 31. The building project is part of a larger plan to eventually construct 1,093 new homes in that community. It’s a move that would likely double the size of the community of over 5,200 people. The settlement is located on the edge of both Jerusalem and Ramallah and is outside the route of the security barrier.
Other projects that were advanced Wednesday morning were: 85 homes for Karnei Shomron, 84 for Kiryat Netafim, 52 for Beit El and 20 for Otniel. Plans that received authorization were: 168 for Tzufim, 108 for Nofim, 71 homes for Barkan, 44 for Ma’aleh Adumim and 8 for Avnei Hefetz.
Separately, the Ministry of Construction and Housing gave its initial approval last week to plans for 350 homes for the Beit El settlement. Next month, tractors will begin to break ground for some 300 homes in that same community, for which tenders were issued earlier this year. The combination of both projects gives a sizable boost to the community of over 6,000 people, located outside the route of the security barrier and on the outskirts of Ramallah.
According to the left-wing group Peace Now, on August 14, two new tenders were issued for 511 units in the Beit Ariyeh settlement and for 603 Jewish homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
Since US President Donald Trump entered office, Israel has published 5,679 tenders and advanced plans for 10,536 housing units. During the last two years of the Obama Administration, Israel issued 602 tenders and advanced plans for 4,611 new settler homes.
The Higher Planning Council met just after Trump warned late Tuesday night that Israel would have to pay a price for the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, adding that it was the Palestinians’ turn to receive a US gesture.
Settlement construction has been one of the more contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt such activity which they hold is a stumbling bloc to a two-state solution.
The Trump administration has not appeared to be overly concerned about settlement construction. Last week US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reportedly said no settlement would be uprooted in any peace deal with the Palestinians.
The issue of Israeli settlement construction was raised Monday in New York at the monthly meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo condemned the Higher Planning Committee’s latest round of settlement construction plans. She was particularly upset by a decision earlier this month to expand the boundaries of the newly created Amihai settlement, which allows for the authorization of the Adei Ad outpost.
“All settlement activities are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace,” DiCarlo said.