Occupied JERUSALEM: Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,300 colony homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a surge of such approvals since US President Donald Trump took office, an NGO said Tuesday.
A defence ministry planning committee issued the approvals while meeting over the past couple of days, the Peace Now NGO said in a statement. The 2,304 housing units are at various stages in the approval process.
“The approval of colony plans is part of a disastrous government policy designed to prevent the possibility of peace and a two-state solution, and to annex part or all of the West Bank,” said Peace Now, which closely monitors Israeli colony building.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged before April elections to annex colonies in the West Bank, a move sought by the country’s far-right.
The colony movement wields heavy influence in Israeli right-wing politics, and Netanyahu is again up for re-election in new polls on September 17 after he failed to form a governing coalition following the previous vote.
Annexing colonies on a large-scale in the West Bank could prove to be a death knell for the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Last week, Israel’s security cabinet gave rare approval to 700 Palestinian homes in the part of the West Bank under the country’s full control while also approving 6,000 homes for colonists.
Details of those plans were not publicly released, and some of the 6,000 colonist homes may be included in this week’s committee approvals, said Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran.
The plan for Palestinians, though relatively small and far outweighed by the new colony homes, could allow Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favour of the White House’s long-awaited peace plan.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner visited the region, including Israel, last week to discuss the peace plan.
Kushner has said his plan will not mention a two-state solution because “it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians.”