Israel advances over 2,000 settlement housing units amid Christmas quiet


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli Defense Ministry committee responsible for authorizing construction in the settlement advanced plans for nearly 2,200 living units in 47 settlements.

The approvals over two days, on Tuesday and Wednesday, came as most world governments that would criticize Israel for approving settlement activity were unplugged for Christmas.

In all, 1,038 homes and apartments were granted approval for final construction, and over 900 were approved for an earlier planning stage.

The majority are for construction in settlements east of the West Bank security fence and beyond settlement blocs that are likely to be retained by Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The approvals bring to 5,618 plans in 2018 for housing units advanced by the Defense Ministry, with 83 percent in isolated settlements, according to Peace Now. They also include an educational institution with dormitories and two industrial zones.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told the heads of the municipal governments in several West Bank settlements that the left would attempt to hijack the media to help it take power in elections set for April.

“They must not succeed,” Netanyahu said at the meeting at his office in Jerusalem. “If, God forbid, they do, there will be a clear danger to the settlement project.” He called the upcoming election a “battle over our homes.”

The heads of three major West Bank municipal governments boycotted the meeting, saying in a statement that Netanyahu offered “false promises” regarding security and had not done enough to develop the settlements.

Recommended from JTA