Israel preparing to approve new settlement building

The Guardian reports (12 Aug)

Israel is preparing to resume settlement building in the occupied West Bank after a hiatus of almost a year, the country’s defence minister has said.

A planning council committee is expected to meet next week to approve 2,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories, Benny Gantz said on Wednesday, as well as about 1,000 units for Palestinians living in the West Bank’s Area C, which is under Israeli military control.

The anticipated approval of new settlement homes would be the first issued by the government of the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, since his cross-partisan coalition ousted Benjamin Netanyahu two months ago. It comes after a 10-month unofficial pause in settlement building believed to be related to the change of administration in the US.

The plan to allow Palestinian construction in Area C is also the largest in years, after several other Israeli-promoted projects stalled.The unusual combination of settlement approvals, together with Palestinian permits, appears to be aimed at bolstering the deeply unpopular Palestinian Authority and avoiding friction during Bennett’s first state visit to Washington DC later this month.