Israel on October 27 advanced plans for building more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a move condemned by the Palestinians that came a day after the US forcefully criticised such construction.
The Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave final approval to 1,800 homes and initial endorsement for another 1,344, a spokesman for the military body that oversees civilian matters in the Palestinian territories told AFP.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a statement voiced “strong rejection” of the approvals, and said the US needed “to implement its pledge to reject settlements and unilateral [Israeli] measures”.
About 475,000 Israeli Jews already live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law, on land Palestinians claim as part of their future state.
The approvals came a day after Washington criticised Israel for its policy of building settlements. President Joe Biden’s administration said it “strongly” opposed new construction in the West Bank.
The policy stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose presidency endorsed Israel’s activity on occupied Palestinian territory.
“We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units,” US Department of State spokesman Ned Price had said on October 26, ahead of Israel’s announcement on final and preliminary approvals.
Price stopped short of saying the matter would jeopardise relations with the Jewish state, a major US ally.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also raised the settlement approvals in a call with Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz on October 26, a senior department official said.