Israel advances plans for 1,300 Palestinian W.Bank homes

By: AFP      Published: 08:09 PM, 1 Nov, 2021
Israel plans W.Bank homes
Israel advances plans for 1,300 Palestinian W.Bank homes

Israel on Monday advanced plans to build just over 1,300 homes for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, an official said, days after endorsing more than 3,000 Jewish settler residences.

The Civil Administration's high planning committee gave final approval to 170 homes and initial endorsement for another 1,133 residences for Palestinians, a spokesman for the military body that oversees civilian matters in the Palestinian territories told AFP.

The units approved were scattered throughout a large swathe of the West Bank known as Area C, where Israel exercises military and planning control.

On Wednesday, the same Civil Administration committee had given final approval to 1,800 Jewish settler homes, and initial endorsement for another 1,344, after the United States said it "strongly" opposed such new construction in the West Bank.

The policy stands in stark contrast to that of US President Joe Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, whose presidency endorsed Israel's activity on occupied Palestinian territory.

Twelve European countries urged Israel to "reverse" its plans for the more than 3,000 settler homes, saying settlement expansion "undermines efforts for the two-state solution."

Israel seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. Since then, nearly 700,000 Israelis have moved into settlements that most of the international community regard as illegal.

Critics saw the Monday approval of the Palestinian plans as an attempt to allay criticism from Israeli allies and the anger of left-wing partners in an unwieldy coalition government headed by right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

An Israeli official said that such a volume of Palestinian approvals has not taken place "in a long time." 

"This is a very positive development for the Palestinians," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Bennett is the former head of a settler lobby group.

He opposes Palestinian statehood and has ruled out formal peace talks with the Palestinian Authority during his tenure, but said he prefers to focus on economic improvements.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.