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Peace Now: Israel to approve more than 1,329 illegal settlement units

Jan. 6, 2018 4:21 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 6:46 P.M.)
A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (background) in east Jerusalem on March 19, 2014 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee is expected to approve the promotion of at least 1,329 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.

In a statement released on Friday, Peace Now said that the committee published its agenda, and is expected to approve the new settlement units next Wednesday, January 10.

According to the group, two-thirds of the 1,329 units (883 housing units) “will be located in isolated settlements that Israel would probably have to evacuate under any two-state agreement.”

Peace Now said that a total of 361 housing units will receive approval for validation, while another 986 will be approved for deposit.

Among the plans to be approved are the expansion of the Alon settlement by 289 housing units, nearly doubling its size. Alon is located some kilometers northeast of mega-settlement Maale Adumim in the central West Bank Jerusalem district.

A plan for the addition of 120 housing units in Karmei Tzur, north of Hebron in the southern West Bank, is intended to expand the settlement by 91 dunams.

A plan for dozens of housing units in the settlement of Ateret, north of Ramallah in the central West Bank, is set to be advanced, despite previous legal action showing that most of the land purchases were based on forged documents.

The group highlighted that on the committee’s docket is a plan for the “temporary” approval of 11 structures in the illegal Nativ Haavot outpost, which is partially located on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Despite orders from Israel’s High Court for settlers to evacuate 17 buildings that were built fully or partially on private land by March 6 2018, Peace Now reported that the settlers are now “preparing a plan for building permits for the houses to be partially sawed off, so that it will be possible to circumvent the demand of the Court.”

“It is disgraceful that the planning institutions permit such a “plan” to be brought up for discussion. This is not a planning solution, but rather a planning disgrace that violates a clear order from the High Court,” Peace Now said.

“The government continues to act irresponsibly by promoting settlement construction, including in areas that Israel will have to evacuate under a final status agreement. Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, the Israeli government has abandoned all restraint and is doing everything in its power to destroy the chances for a two-state solution,” Peace Now said in its statement.

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

Meanwhile, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that in 2016 Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions since the group began recording the incidents.

At the same time, Peace now reported that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34 percent in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction on 1,814 new settler housing units.

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