Israel advances plans for over 4,000 new West Bank homes

Israel approved plans for 4,427 West Bank homes on Thursday, ignoring a US request that it refrain from doing so.

One outpost, Mitzpe Dani, was given final approval as a new neighborhood of the Ma’aleh Michmas settlement, at the meeting of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria when it convened for the first time this year.

The council allowed for plans to be deposited that would transform the Mitzpe Lachish outpost into a new neighborhood of the Negohot settlement and would authorize conservation land in Gush Etzion in an area known as Oz Ve’gaon. A 180-room hotel is attached to that project.

Two industrial zones in the settlements of Ariel and Emmanuel were also pushed forward by the council, with plans deposited for the former and approved for the latter.

The details of the meeting were published by the left-wing NGO Peace Now in advance of any formal notification by the Higher Planning Council.

MK Nir Orbach (Yamina) warned Prime Minister Naftali Bennett he would resign from the coalition unless the council met to advance building plans.

“This is a celebratory day for the settlements,” Orbach tweeted after the meeting, adding a tongue-in-cheek comment in which he thanked Hagit Ofran of Peace Now for all her work in publicizing information about the meeting.

“Hagit, thank you very much!” Orbach wrote. “You are really helping me to explain to those in the settlements and indeed to all Israeli citizens how widespread and good” these approvals were. Orbach also thanked Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) shot back on Twitter, “Nir, the settlements are immoral and harm the citizens of Israel. Instead of worrying about the personal safety of men and women, we are increasing the hostility.”

Israel had initially intended to advance plans for close to 6,000 settler homes but condensed the list in a vain effort to appease the Biden administration, which didn’t want to see any plans advanced.

A number of right-wing politicians and settler leaders held a rally earlier this week to sway Bennett to place the projects back on the list.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan is in Washington this week, in an attempt to drum up support for settlement construction in Judea and Samaria, a move that the Republican Party under former president Donald Trump supported but which US President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party has opposed.