Hundreds of new West Bank homes said slated for approval

The Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee is set to meet next week to review and advance multiple construction projects in the West Bank which were put on hold for various reasons, including US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel last week.

The committee is to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first time since Trump came to office in January. The various projects on its docket include advancing through different stages of planning as many as 2,600 homes. Of these, over 400 are expected to receive final approval for construction, including some outside the major settlement blocs.

The government does not expect the building approvals to cause diplomatic trouble with Washington, having already discussed the issue with the Trump administration, an Israeli official said. “These are plans, some of which are old and were frozen at various stages,” he said.

The committee normally meets every few months, but its last scheduled meeting was postponed due to Trump’s visit to Israel.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering press statements prior to an official dinner in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a team of staffers to carry out a comprehensive review of all the new plans, the NRG news site reported. The team approved the plans that will be considered by the Civil Administration next week.

A spokesperson for the settlers’ Yesha Council said, “We expect to see the cabinet’s decisions reflected at next week’s committee meetings.”

He said that even if all the plans are approved it will not be enough to fill the demand for West Bank homes.

“Even this is too little,” he said, “compared to the growing need created by years of freezes on building, which has created a shortage of homes in Judea and Samaria.”

Har Hevron Regional Council head Yohai Damari called on government ministers, “after you approved Arab building on state lands last week, to strengthen the settlement [movement] and release all the plans that were frozen in the eight-year-long Obama dry spell.”

Earlier this week an Israeli settlement leader reportedly warned the Trump administration not to pressure Netanyahu too strongly on peace — or risk his downfall.

According to the report, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan told White House officials, “If you press Netanyahu too much, he’ll fall.”

While in the early days of the Trump administration the White House insisted that settlements were not “an impediment to peace,” during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington in February, the president told the prime minister that he’d like him to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” and said in a Hebrew newspaper interview that settlements are “not a good thing for peace.”


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