Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, has approved on Sunday the expansion of four West Bank settlements, the first such approvals since he came to office.
Peretz considers the expansion of the settlements as enlargement of the “jurisdictional area”. The expression was previously used as an introductory for constructing new neighborhoods for the settlements built of Palestinian annexed lands.
The settlements are inside the occupied West Bank, and close to the borders with Israel.
Israel Ministry of Defense reported on Sunday that the expansion orders were taken by the then- Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, and that Peretz “intends to review the question of settlement expansion”.
Several weeks ago, Major-General Yair Naveh, the overall Israeli army commander in the West Bank, signed orders expanding by 60 Dunams (15 acres) of the jurisdictional area of Givat Ze’ev settlement, north of Jerusalem.
Naveh also singed orders allowing expansion of Oranit settlements, just over the Green Line, marking the borders between Israeli and the West Bank. The settlement is located near Kfar Sava Israeli city.
He also signed orders allowing expansion of the northern Jordan Rift Valley settlement of Maskiyot, where the government plans to provide homes in the occupied West Bank, for settlers evacuated last summer from the Gaza enclave of Shirat Hayam.
Most recently, Naveh signed an order enlarging by 400 Dunams (100 acres) the jurisdictional area of Beitar Ilit, a Haredi settlement in the Gush Etzion area, near Hebron.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Peace Now Movement, slammed Peretz’ decision and approval of settlement expansion.
"In back rooms and far from the public eye, the government of Israel has chosen to expand the settlements," Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer told the Israeli Radio on Sunday.
Oppenheimer added that Peretz must cancel this move.
“It seems that settlements are a flexible term”, he stated, “The Israeli government an attempt to steal more Palestinian land, as part of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to set Israel’s borders”.