Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes in occupied West Bank

AFP , Wednesday 6 Mar 2024

The Israeli government has pushed forward construction plans for 3,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a hardline minister said Wednesday.

Israeli settlements site
File Photo: A construction site in the West Bank settlement of Ma ale Adumim. AFP


The administrative step forward comes after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last month vowed to expand settlements in the West Bank.

"Nearly 3,500 settlement units," Minister Orit Struck wrote Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.

"We promised -- we are delivering... Together we will continue to advance the settlements," added Struck, an ally of fellow extreme-right settler Smotrich.

The move came as Israel has waged nearly five months of war on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee, across Maale Adumim and Kedar, east of Jerusalem, and Efrat, south of the city.

Greenlighting the next step for the pre-planned homes comes less than two weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any Israeli settlement expansion would be "counterproductive to reaching enduring peace" with the Palestinians.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal international law.

Despite opposition abroad, Israel has in recent decades built dozens of settlements across the West Bank.

They are now home to more than 490,000 Israeli settlers who are planted among around three million Palestinians in the occupied territory.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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