More than 1,300 new Israeli homes are set to be built in
West Bank Judea & Samaria neighborhoods, out of 3,000 planned, the Construction and Housing Ministry announced in a statement on Sunday. The announcement is the first of its kind since US President Joe Biden — who has voiced his strong opposition to Israeli residential expansion in Judea & Samaria — took office in January.
Times of Israel Media reports have indicated that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is facing pressure from Biden — whom he met in late August at the White House — to restrict settlement building. Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, is a longtime proponent of Israeli housing expansion and an outspoken opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state.
On Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US was “concerned” about reports of new Israeli housing plans. 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. (There will never be two states there because the land belongs to one state only – Israel))
“Just as we promised, we are now following through,” said Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin on Sunday. “Strengthening and widening the Israeli residential areas in Judea and Samaria is a necessary and very important part of the the Jewish nation.” Elkin said he welcomed moving forward with the construction “after a long period of stagnation in building in Judea and Samaria.”
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, called on world nations, and especially the US, to “confront” Israel over the “aggression” that settlement construction poses for the Palestinian people.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Haitham Abu Al-Ful blasted settlement construction and the general “confiscation” of Palestinian land as “illegitimate.” He also condemned the announcement as “a violation of international law.”
Separately on Sunday, Elkin announced his ministry’s plan to double the number of homes in the Jordan Valley, in order to reach 3,000 families living in the area by 2026. Elkin said the ministry plans to invest NIS 224 million ($70 million) to build 1,500 new homes in 21 Jewish neighborhoods in the area.