The Israeli Housing Ministry announced on Tuesday that it would subsidize 213 of the 277 new houses it has approved for construction in Efrat settlement in the West Bank, in violation of an agreement made with former U.S. President George W. Bush.The publicly-stated reason for the new construction approved by the Israeli government is revenge for the Palestinian Authority’s failed attempt to gain recognition as a state at the United Nations last fall.
The Efrat construction is just one of a series of new construction projects in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem approved by the Israeli government since the bid for statehood was submitted in September.
But Tuesday’s approval is the first since September to include housing subsidies provided by the Israeli government. This is a direct violation of an agreement made in 2004 with the U.S. administration during peace negotiations.
According to that agreement, the Israeli government promised to stop seizing Palestinian land for settlement expansion, to only construct new units within the boundaries of existing settlements, to not construct any new West Bank settlements, and to end the long-standing practice of subsidizing settlements by providing financial incentives for Israelis to move into the settlements.
Although all Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, the Israeli government considers many of the over 300 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem to be legal, and has subsidized many of the estimated 350,000 settlers to move into the settlements instead of living in homes inside Israel.