Israel approves thousands of new West Bank settlement homes

It is more than eight months since the Israeli government last gave the go-ahead to an expansion of settlements

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Israel on Wednesday approved thousands of new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The government plans 2,166 new homes in existing settlements, ending an eight-month lull since the last approved expansions.

About 2,000 more homes are expected to be approved on Thursday.

Most countries consider the West Bank settlements illegal under international law, a charge Israel denies.

US President Donald Trump gave US blessing to Israeli annexation of large chunks of the West Bank, including the settlements considered illegal under international law, in his controversial “peace plan” unveiled in January.

As part of his election campaign and eventual coalition deal with rival Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex much of the West Bank and Jordan Valley from July 1. But on August 18, he said the plan was frozen after a conditional agreement was reached with the UAE to establish ties.

About 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley area and as of January this year, about 400,000 lived in illegal settlements in the wider occupied West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu's plan drew global condemnation and led Jordan to say it would end co-operation and ties with Israel if the plan went through.

UAE Minister of State and Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba wrote a Hebrew op-ed in Israel's largest newspaper to say that annexation would make relations more difficult and urging the people to reject annexation.

Last month, Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain. The agreement to establish ties was linked to halting the annexation of the occupied West Bank or Jordan Valley.