Jerusalem: IsraelThe religious nationalist government presented plans on Sunday to approve thousands of building permits in the occupied West Bank, despite US pressure to stop settlement expansion, which Washington sees as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
The approval plans for 4,560 housing units in different areas of the West Bank have been included on the council’s agenda The Supreme Council for Israeli Planning which will meet next week, though there are only 1,332 for final approval, while the rest are still going through the initial approval process.
“We will continue to develop settlements and strengthen Israeli control over the land,” the finance minister said. Bezalel Smotrichwho also holds a defense portfolio that gives him a leading role in administering the West Bank.
Most countries consider settlements built on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal. Their existence is one of the main issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinians seek to establish their own independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Peace talks brokered by the US have been frozen since 2014.
Since taking office in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition has agreed to promote more than 7,000 new housing units, most of them deep in the West Bank.
It also amended a law to pave the way for settlers to return to four previously evacuated settlements.
In response to Sunday’s Israeli decision, the Palestinian Authority – which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank – said it would boycott a joint economic committee meeting with Israel scheduled for Monday.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which has ruled Gaza since 2007, after Israel’s withdrawal of soldiers and settlers, denounced the move, saying it “will not give (Israel) legitimacy on our land. Our people will resist it by all means.”
Jewish settler groups welcomed the announcement.
“The people chose to continue building in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, and that is the way it should be,” he said. Shlomo noEman, Mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council and Chairman of the Board of Directors radiating councilusing Israel’s biblical names for the West Bank.


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