Occupied West Bank: Israel approves settlement plan for 3,400 new homes

Observers call for additional sanctions on Israel for violating international law, yet again

Representative image of Israel's settler colonisation of East Jerusalem, with the legend that as of 2017, over 200,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements on Palestinian soil here (image courtesy Visualizing Palestine)
Representative image of Israel's settler colonisation of East Jerusalem, with the legend that as of 2017, over 200,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements on Palestinian soil here (image courtesy Visualizing Palestine)

NH Digital

This article was updated with new information on 8 March 2024. It was first published on 7 March, 9:10 p.m.

On 6 March, BBC News reported on the Israeli government's new plan to add new settlements comprising over 3,400 new homes in the Occupied West Bank.

This is the first such announcement since June last year.

About 2,500 of these homes—about 70%—are to be built in Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem and south of Bethlehem. It seems, the BBC reported, a 'response' to a Palestinian attack on Israeli forces in the region 2 weeks ago.

The Palestinian Authority has, understandably, condemned this settlement agenda in an area that Israel's defence forces claim to be operating in only by way of self-defence — per statements in the International Court of Justice — and recovery of their hostages taken by Hamas on the other side, in Gaza.

Since the 1967 war in West Asia, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the settler colonialist nation has built some 160 settlements holding now 600,000 Jews—all on land the Palestinians would claim for their free state of Palestine. This latest move, therefore, is hard to read as not being part of a colonial and vengeance-fuelled agenda on Israel's part.

Israel's leading English-language newspaper, Haaretz, noted that the far-right Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also oversees civil administration, said that Israel had approved 18,515 homes in its West Bank settlements over the last year. Since the majority of these plans were put forward in the first half of 2023, this at least was not a response to the 7 October Hamas attack—indeed, it might be understood as part of the provocation by those who support a free state of Palestine liberated from Israeli influence.

The minister also posted on X, declaring in Hebrew, 'The enemies try to hurt and weaken, but we will continue to build and be built in this country.'

Israeli anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now responded: "Instead of building a future of hope, peace and security, the Israeli government is paving the way for our destruction."

Smotrich had put first forward the plans on 22 February, hours after three Palestinian militants opened fire on a road near Maale Adumim, killing one Israeli citizen and wounding several more. At the time, he said his administration "must have a determined security response but also a settlement response".

The US government administration had responded to the development, in the words of US secretary of state Antony Blinken a day later, to say "It's been longstanding US policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace."

"They're also inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion. And in our judgement, this only weakens — it doesn't strengthen — Israel's security," Blinken continued. In this, the Biden administration has reverted to an earlier US foreign ministry position, one avowed prior to the Trump regime's in 2019, the BBC noted.

A Peace Now report said in January that there had been an 'unprecedented surge in settlement activities' across the West Bank ever since Israel began its war on Gaza in retaliation for the 7 October Hamas attack.

The UN has noted, meanwhile, that at least 413 Palestinians (not distinguishing militants and civilians) have been killed in conflict in the West Bank region since October; in contrast, 15 Israelis were killed.

In the West Bank itself, the Palestinian Authority had put out a statement that 'Settlement is void and illegitimate from its foundation, representing an explicit call for the continuation of the spiral of violence and wars.'

Update, 8 March: Even Germany, which has been extremely pro-Israel, pro-Jewish and pro-Zionist even throughout the last 5 months, has made a point of drawing a (verbal) line in the sand on X, saying: 'We condemn yesterday's construction approval.'

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines