Israel advances plans for more West Bank housing

JERUSALEM (JTA) – An Israeli Defense Ministry committee advanced plans for more than 1,300 housing units in West Bank settlements, which the European Union called “detrimental” to efforts toward peace talks.

The 1,323 homes and apartments approved Wednesday by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee, which oversees construction activity in the West Bank, are in various stages of development. On Tuesday, the panel gave the OK for 1,292 housing units there.

Also this week, the subcommittee reportedly approved the construction of an apartment complex in a Jewish neighborhood of mostly Palestinian Hebron.

The European Union said it has requested “clarifications” from Israeli authorities about the approvals “and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to on-going efforts towards meaningful peace talks,” according to a statement. “All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

Israel has said it would limit settlement construction to keep the Trump administration happy while it formulates a peace initiative.

Some 6,742 settlement housing units have been advanced since January, according to Peace Now – the most since 2014, when some 6,293 settlement housing units were advanced following a freeze on settlement construction. Last year, there were 2,639 units advanced.

“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 in a statement.

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