Israel on Thursday pressed forward on plans for 4,400 homes in the Shomron, making 2020 one of the most prolific years for construction of new building units in Yehudah and Shomron.
It is the first announcement of planned construction of homes in the Shomron since Israel suspended its annexation plans as part of the peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
The Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee is convening on Monday to finalize approval for about 2,500 units, with the remaining units receiving initial approval at the meeting. According to the council, 952 new housing units will be built in Har Gilo, 629 units in Eli, 357 in Geva Binyamin, 354 in Nili, and 346 in Beit El.
Thursday’s approvals, along with more than 2,000 new homes approved a day earlier, are part of a building boom that has gained steam during the presidency of Donald Trump. It also comes months after Israel promised to put on hold plans to annex parts of the Shomron in exchange for a U.S.-brokered normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.
The latest approvals raised the number of settlement homes to be advanced this year to more than 12,150, according to Peace Now, the settlement watchdog group. It is by far the highest number of approvals since Trump took office in early 2017 and the highest since Peace Now began recording the figures in 2012.
In contrast to its predecessors, the Trump administration has not criticized or condemned new settlement announcements, and in a landmark decision last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. does not consider settlements to be illegal under international law.
The Trump administration’s Mideast plan, unveiled early this year, calls for leaving 30% of the Shomron, including all of Israel’s more than 120 settlements, under permanent Israeli control.
Buoyed by Trump’s stance, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intended earlier this year to push toward annexing the parts of the Shomron it would keep under the Trump plan. But that plan was scuttled, at least temporarily, after the UAE deal was announced.
The approvals add to a growing pipeline of construction that is expected to take off in the next few years.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)