Israel authorises West Bank settlements and 10,000 new homes

Since occupation began in 1967, Israeli governments have set up or approved 132 settlements

The Givat Haroe Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, north of Ramallah. AFP
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Nine Jewish settler outposts in the occupied West Bank were given retrospective authorisation on Sunday and the Israeli government also announced new homes to be built in settlements.

Two pro-settler ministers, who indicated a hard-right approach when they were included in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government, were the first to publish the decisions by the security cabinet.

The settlements are considered illegal by most world powers because they take up land where the Palestinians seek statehood.

Israel does not agree with this opinion, and since capturing the West Bank in a 1967 war, successive governments have set up or approved 132 settlements.

In recent years, settlers have erected scores of outposts without government permission.

Some have been razed by police, others authorised retrospectively. The nine granted approval on Sunday are the first for this Netanyahu government.

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Mr Netanyahu's office also said a planning committee would convene in coming days to approve new settlement homes.

Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said there would be 10,000.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's administration, whose US-sponsored statehood talks with Israel broke down in 2014, said Sunday's announcement should be "condemned and rejected".

"It is a challenge to US and Arab efforts and a provocation to the Palestinian people, and it will lead to more tension and escalation,” said Mr Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

There was no immediate comment from the US embassy. But the ambassador, Thomas Nides, had made it clear last month that the US administration would oppose such moves.

"We want to keep a vision of a two-state solution alive," Mr Nides said. "He [Mr Netanyahu] understands that we understand that massive settlement growth will not accomplish that goal.

"We have been very clear about the ideas of legalising outposts, massive settlement expansion — it will not keep the vision of the two-state solution alive, in which case we will oppose it and we will be very clear about our opposition," he said on January 11.

Updated: February 12, 2023, 11:02 PM