The Israeli Civil Administration is expected to approve around 2,500 new housing units in the occupied West Bank next week, Israeli NGO Peace Now said Friday.
The Civil Administration, the military body in charge of the West Bank, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss 27 different plants for the expansion of settlements across the territory.
Most of the new units will be built in existing major settlement blocks, such as Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, but 102 units will be added to the new Amichai settlement, just approved by the Israeli government on Mar. 30. Amichai is the first settlement officially created and sanctioned by the Israeli state in 25 years.
The rest of the new housing units will be built deep into the West Bank, including in the Susiya settlement in the South Hebron Hills, and the Beit El settlement, located northeast of Ramallah.
Much of the international community, as well as the Palestinians, see the settlements as violations of international law and a major roadblock in the peace process, as they are built on Palestinian land and drastically complicate the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.
The plans, if confirmed, come on the heels of President Trump’s visit to Israel, during which he met with PM Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister issued a statement signaling disapproval after Trump announced that he would not move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for now.
“There is so much land left,” Trump told the paper. “And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we’ll see. But no, I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”
Trump made a similar case to Netanyahu himself during a visit to Washington last February.
According to a recent report issued by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the length and characteristics of Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land indicate no serious plans on Israel’s behalf to give up the territory; it instead appears to be moving towards outright annexation.
“Attempts by third states and international actors to enforce IHL [international humanitarian law] and IHRL [international human rights law] have failed to bring about Israel’s compliance because this partial legal framework neither adequately captures the legal consequences of continued occupation with the aim of acquiring the territory, nor generates appropriate remedial action for such a situation,” the report said.
Many settlers condemned the plan as insufficient, with one settler leader, Yossi Dagan, insisting it is “tantamount to a quiet construction freeze.”
Dagan said that the end of Obama’s presidency should have meant a significant expansion of settlement blocs—that is, more than the 2,500 units slated to be approved in the coming days.
Dagan also warned that Trump “risks his downfall” if he continues pushing for a peace deal.
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