07/31/2019, 12.58
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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Israel approves new West Bank homes: 700 for Palestinians, 6,000 for Jewish settlers

The decision comes on the eve of the visit of US special envoy Jared Kushner. It is not clear if the housing will be new or retroactively approved. The plan touches Area C, which includes about 60 per cent of the entire West Bank.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israel has approved the construction of at least 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. At the same time, it gave the green light for the construction of 700 new homes for the Palestinians, an official Israeli source reported, on condition of anonymity.

The announcement for Area C housing comes ahead of an expected visit to Israel on Wednesday by US envoy Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump.

It was not immediately clear if all of the homes will be new construction or if some already exist and are receiving retroactive approval.

For some analysts and experts, the plan for the Palestinians, though relatively small and far outweighed by the new settlement homes, could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favour of Kushner's long-awaited peace plan.

The issue of housing and building permits is at the centre of Kushner's trip. The latter was tasked by the US president to draft an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

A few weeks ago, the US made public some economic aspects of its peace plan at a conference in Bahrain, but is expected to unveiled the whole after Israel’s election next September.

Area C covers about 60 per cent of the entire West Bank. According to the interim agreements of 1993, Israel has administrative and security control of the area, within which most of the West Bank settlements are concentrated.

The Palestinians claim the entire territory as part of their future state, but the claims have so far fallen on deaf ears and Israel continues to boost its expansionist policy.

Since the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel built settlements, inhabited by Israeli civilians and military, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Sinai, and the Gaza Strip.

After the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the Sinai and evacuated its settlements. In 2005 the late Prime Minister Sharon ordered the dismantling of 17 colonies in the Gaza Strip.

Illegal under international law, settlements dot the landscape in and around East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

According to data from Israeli’s Interior Ministry, there are at least 133 official settlements in the West Bank, plus a hundred outposts, with about 600,000 people. Another 300,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem and 20,000 in the Golan.

In 2017, the government spent ILS (shekels) 1.650 billion (US$ 460 million) for settlements, up from ILS 1.198 billion the previous year. This is the most important amount in the past decade.

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