JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Ministry of Housing is working on plans for more than 55,500 units in West Bank settlements, according to a new Peace Now report.
More than half the units are for construction east of the security barrier and include more than 8,000 units in the controversial E1 area, two new settlements and the legalization of at least six outposts, said the report, which was issued Monday.
The information was provided to Peace Now by the Housing Ministry following a freedom of information petition, according to the organization.
In response to the report, Israel’s Housing Ministry said in a statement that “there were no activities whatsoever on the E1 site,” the corridor between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. According to the statement, “at no time did the ministry proceed with housing plans on said site.”
Settlement of the area would deny territorial contiguity to a future Palestinian state.
The Peace Now report said the ministry paid more than $900,000 to plan for the E1 housing units without releasing public tenders, which could tip off Israelis and world leaders who are against building in the settlements. It comes more than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a similar plan for the neighborhood following an international outcry.
Additional housing units are planned as well for Maale Adumim, Givat Eitam near Efrat, and two settlements near Talmon and Givat Zeev, according to the report.
The ministry also funded illegal projects in at least nine settlements, including Itamar and Shiloh, according to the report.
Peace Now also reported a plan for 21 housing units for Jews in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near Herod’s Gate.