First Published: 2017-10-10

Israel approves nearly 4,000 new settler homes
Jewish state advances plans to build new settler units in illegally occupied West Bank, including some in flashpoint city of Hebron for first time in years.
Middle East Online

Homes would be located throughout the West Bank

JERUSALEM - Israel is to advance plans for nearly 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank as part of a push to greatly boost settlement growth, an Israeli official said Tuesday.

The approvals are to include units in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron for the first time in years.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "3,736 housing units will be approved at different stages of planning and construction".

He did not give a timeframe or a precise breakdown, but said the homes would be located throughout the West Bank, including in Hebron and at the Migron and Beit El settlements near Ramallah.

"In total, about 12,000 housing units will be approved in 2017, at various stages of planning and construction, four times the number in 2016," the official said.

Israel faced heavy criticism of settlement construction from US president Barack Obama's administration, but that has not been the case with his successor Donald Trump.

Israeli media say that a planning council is expected to meet next week to approve at least some of the plans.

Haaretz daily said that if the Hebron housing is approved it would be the first time for the southern West Bank city since 2002.

Hebron is home to around 200,000 Palestinians, with about 800 settlers living under Israeli army protection in several heavily fortified compounds in the heart of the city.

It is holy to both religions, with Old Testament figures including Abraham believed to be buried there.

The 1994 massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron by Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein led to an agreement three years later giving the Palestinian Authority control over 80 percent of the city.

The settlers and about 30,000 Palestinians living adjacent to them fall under Israeli military rule.

Last month, Israel gave the settlers there the authority to manage their own municipal affairs in what critics denounced as reminiscent of "apartheid".

About 430,000 Israeli settlers live among 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Settlement building in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem is considered illegal under international law.

It is also seen as a major obstacle to peace as the settlements are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition government leans heavily on settlers and their supporters to maintain its thin parliamentary majority.

 

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Somali journalist killed in front of children

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS