Risking Biden’s Ire, Israel Approves Construction In Shomron, Including Tel Menashe

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FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2020 file photo, workers take a break before European Union officials visit the construction site for Givat Hamatos settlement in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File); Esther Horgan, H'yd, who was murdered near Tel Menashe.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office announced plans on Monday to build hundreds of housing units in the Shomron and Yehudah, including over 100 units in Tel Menashe, home of Esther Horgan, H’yd, who was brutally murdered in a Shomron forest last month.

Netanyahu also ordered the Israel Planning Administration (IPA) to authorize the construction of about 400 additional housing units in the yishuvim of Givat Ze’ev, Beit El, Karnei Shomron, Shavei Shomron, Evyatar, Barkan and the Schunat Havatikim at its next session.

The move could strain ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is opposed to settlement expansion and has clashed with Israel over it in the past.

It was not immediately clear how soon the homes would be built, as such construction usually requires approval from several government bodies and a tendering process.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, who hopes to unseat Netanyahu in March, called the settlement announcement an “irresponsible step” that would spark a “battle” with the new U.S. administration.

“The Biden administration has not yet taken office and the government is already leading us into an unnecessary confrontation,” he tweeted. “The national interest must also be maintained during elections.”

The greatest threat to Netanyahu in the coming vote comes from the right, where Gideon Saar, a former ally and staunch supporter of settlements, has broken away and vowed to end his long rule. Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud winning the most votes but falling short of a majority coalition in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)