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Israel Advances Construction of 1,300 New Homes in West Bank Settlement Communities 

10-25-2021
In this Nov. 16, 2020 file photo, workers take a break before European Union officials visit the construction site for the Givat Hamatos Israeli settlement, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
In this Nov. 16, 2020 file photo, workers take a break before European Union officials visit the construction site for the Givat Hamatos Israeli settlement, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

JERUSALEM, Israel – For the first time under the Biden administration, Israel is advancing the construction of more settlement communities in the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria. 

On Sunday, Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry published marketing materials for 1,355 Jewish homes to be built across seven different settlements. 

“Strengthening and widening the settlements in Judea and Samaria is a necessary and very important part of the Zionist enterprise,” Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin. 

Elkin welcomed the building plans “after a long period of stagnation in building in Judea and Samaria.”

A leader in the Beit El settlement community, where some of the homes will be built, applauded the move. 

"This is a day of celebration for Beit El,” said Shai Alon, head of the Beit El Regional Council. “Together with expansive commercial areas that will be built, we will soon be able to see in Beit El pictures we haven't seen before on our way to making it a city and the capital of the [Binyamin region].”

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders, Jordan, and the United Nations condemned the building plans.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Haitham Abu Al-Ful called Israel’s settlement expansion “an illegal policy” that undermines peace and a “violation of international law.”

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned” by construction plans and said they must “cease immediately.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh also blasted the decision and called on the world, specifically the United States, to “confront” Israel. 

Click to get your copy of Whose Land Is It? Jewish and Arab Claims to Israel

Sunday’s announcement marks the first major move by Israel to construct more settlement communities since US President Joe Biden was sworn into office. 

Israeli media reported last week that Israel is slated to approve more than 3,000 settlement homes in the coming days, along with 1,300 new Palestinian homes in Area C of the West Bank. 

On Friday, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said the US was “concerned” about the reports. He called on Israel and the Palestinians to “refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tension and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution” to the conflict.

The Palestinians seek the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War – as part of a future state. The Palestinians view the settlements as a major obstacle to peace and most of the international community considers them to be illegal according to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel cites the San Remo Resolution signed in 1920 after World War I as its right under international law to settle the land. Israel also views the disputed territory the settlement communities are built on as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the right-wing Yamina party, is a vocal supporter of Israeli settlement communities and opposes the creation of an independent Palestinian state. But Left-wing members of Bennett’s government coalition condemned the advancement of more settlements.

“The Yamina government is disregarding Meretz,” tweeted Mossi Raz, leader of Israel’s Meretz party. “It’s heading 10 degrees more to the right than the last government. Building in settlements outside of Israel harms Israel.”

The decision comes weeks before Bennett’s government coalition, which includes an Arab party and parties on the left, right, and center, must pass a 2021 budget by a Nov. 14 deadline. Bennett and other ministers have warned against riling up tensions in the coalition because if they fail to pass a budget, the government automatically dissolves and a new election is triggered. 

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