Israeli settler watchdog Peace Now is warning in a new report that the Israeli Housing Ministry is seeking a massive series of new settlement expansions cutting across all sections of the West Bank, totaling 55,548 new housing units, including two new settlements.
The new settlements would be in the E1 area, and would further divide the remaining Palestinian parts of the occupied West Bank. The possibility of building in the E1 has caused considerable concern that it would effectively prevent a contiguous Palestinian state.
Israeli officials tend to announce settlements in the few thousands of units at a time, dealing with limited diplomatic fallout each time, but avoiding the major condemnation they’d face from announcing such huge expansions as they have in recent years all at once.
Settlement expansions have also become virtually obligatory for Israel’s far-right governments, as they depend heavily on a handful of pro-settler MPs for their narrow majority. The settlers are pretty much constantly furious about the slow rate of growth, and it’s to be expected that the Housing Ministry would have a considerable backlog of potential announcements to make to placate them.