The Israeli government made clear, Sunday, its decision to freeze construction on 19 Palestinian projects in the West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian news sources.
Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the occupied territories, Yoav Mordechai, said during a Civil Administration meeting that 19 projects, approved in Area C as a ‘goodwill gesture’ marking the beginning of negotiations with the PLO, would be frozen by the Israeli government, according to the Hebrew newspaper Maariv.
He said that Palestinians had started an ‘intifada’ of illegal construction in the West Bank and, ironically, that it was their ‘duty to apply the law on everyone including illegal settlement construction in the West Bank.’
Israeli authorities quietly ‘legalized’ several outposts in 2012 and, now, some 100 settler outposts stand in the West Bank without government authorization, with more than 500,000 settlers living in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Palestinians are rarely granted permits to build in the region.
The move to freeze the new projects comes as what is perceived as one of several attempts at implementing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for its recent reconciliation with Hamas.
Just this past Wednesday, the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas had announced a deal to end seven years of political strife between the two parties, in an effort to salvage national unity.
The Israeli government expressed major opposition to the deal, halting peace talks and threatening unspecified measures in response.
The construction freeze is the third in a series of sanctions imposed against the PA since the beginning of April, when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave the order to sever all ties with PA officials, with the exception of what is called ‘security coordination’.
On April 10, Israel froze the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, and is now reported to be keeping only minimal contact with West Bank officials.
According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Israeli government has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967.