Benny Gantz, Israel’s prime minister in waiting, asks to convene committee to approve new West Bank housing


(JTA) — Benny Gantz, Israel’s prime minister in waiting, has become much friendlier with the settler community in recent weeks following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to declare sovereignty over all or part of the West Bank. That vow has been put on indefinite hold following the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Now Gantz wants to convene a planning committee to approve 5,000 housing units in the West Bank. The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has not met since February, thus causing a six-month freeze on the planning of housing in Jewish settlements.

Convening the committee requires the prime minister’s approval, and Gantz sent a letter on Sunday to Netanyahu asking for permission.

Gantz, currently the defense minister, will take over as prime minister next year under the government coalition agreement. He heads the center-left Blue and White party, which makes up part of the current coalition.

The committee would meet to consider the final approval of building plans for some 2,000 apartments and the initial plans for another 3,000. The units are located in settlement blocs and isolated settlements, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

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