The Israeli body responsible for authorizing settlements is expected to advance plans for over 4,400 new settler homes. The Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee will meet next week to sign off on the final approval for around 2,500 settler units in the West Bank. The committee will begin early stages of approval for the other units.
It will be the first approval of settlements and meeting of the committee since February. There has been a de facto freeze of settlement construction due to the coronavirus pandemic and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed attempt to annex portions of the West Bank. Despite the settlement freeze and the pandemic, Israel has demolished a record number of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.
A settlement freeze was rumored to be a part of Israel’s deal to normalize relations with the UAE and Bahrain, but the advancement of settlements shows this is not the case. Reports from September said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz pushed for new settlements.
Gantz is set to take over as prime minister in 2021 as part of a power-sharing deal agreed to with Netanyahu after three back-to-back elections gave neither politician a clear victory. Settler leaders are unhappy with Netanyahu after he failed to fulfill his promise to annex portions of the West Bank allotted to Israel in President Trump’s “Vision for Peace,” which was released in January.
It is still possible that another election takes place before 2021. In advancing the settlements, Gantz will likely shore up the support of hard-liners and settler leaders.