A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (background) in east Jerusalem on March 19, 2014 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
The Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee convened, on Tuesday and Thursday, and advanced plans for 2,615 housing units in illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.
Peace Now released a statement on Thursday detailing the committee’s decisions, saying that over the course of two days of meetings, the civil administration promoted 2,615 housing units, bringing the total number of units promoted through plans this week to 2,646, after 31 construction permits were approved for settlers in Hebron on October 16th.
Of the 2,615 housing units promoted, 1,508 were approved for depositing, while 1,323 were approved for validation.
Meanwhile, Ma’an further reports, the civil administration issued on Tuesday a tender for 296 units in the Beit El settlement, located in the Ramallah district of the central West Bank.
Since the beginning of the year, Peace Now revealed, 6,742 settlement housing units have been promoted by Israeli authorities.
“The Israeli government has lost all its inhibitions, while promoting settlement expansion in a record pace for recent years and distancing us daily from the possibility of a two state solution,” Peace Now said.
“The government is sending a clear message to settlers – build illegally and anywhere and we will find a solution for you. It is clear that Netanyahu is prioritizing his settler constituency over the rule of law and the possibility for peace.”
Earlier this month, Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to approve the construction of 3,829 settlements, causing outrage among Palestinian leaders.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned Israel’s plans, saying “clearly, Israel is bent on entrenching the military occupation and its illegal settlement enterprise, further reaffirming its intentions of displacing Palestine and replacing it with ‘Greater Israel’.”
Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.
The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.
Meanwhile, Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that, in 2016, Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions since the group began recording the incidents.
At the same time, Peace now stated that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34 percent in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction on 1,814 new settler housing units.