While Israel has repeatedly announced major settlement expansions in occupied East Jerusalem in recent months, there had been reports of an “informal” building freeze in settlements across much of the West Bank. That “freeze,” to the extent it ever existed, is clearly over today, as Israeli planning authorities approve new building in settlements across the West Bank.
According to anti-settlement NGO Peace Now, the approval covers 153 new homes in smaller settlements, including in the far north Ariel area, and a settlement just outside of Hebron, among others.
The approvals are likely part of the effort by the Netanyahu government to placate far-right coalition partners, many of whom are furious over last week’s evacuation of settlers after an illegal takeover of a pair of buildings in Hebron.
These new building efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to plans pushed by the Housing Ministry, which would see Israel building another 55,000 settlement units, many deliberately positioned in parts of the West Bank meant to divide Palestinian territory, and ensure that no Palestinian state could ever exist.