Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday announced a new plan to build some 800 homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, an area also claimed by Palestinians.
The decision comes nine days after the inauguration of new US President Joe Biden, who has already spoken out against Israeli settlements in the disputed region – a stance contrary to that of Donald Trump.
Palestinians criticize the installation of houses in these places because the presence of housing prevents the creation of a Palestinian state, which they have sought for decades.
“We are here to stay. We will continue to build in the Land of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on a social network when announcing the measure.
The prime minister is currently campaigning for parliamentary elections scheduled for March 23, which could put her out of control after more than ten consecutive years in office. It will be the fourth election in two years in the country.
Political instability occurs because in previous votes, neither the government nor the opposition managed to win a majority in Parliament.
So, to remain prime minister, Netanyahu needs the support – and votes – of conservative and religious groups, which are generally in favor of settlements in the occupied territory.
One of Netanyahu’s concerns is to prevent the growth of the right-wing New Hope party in the next election. The association is headed by former deputy Gideon Saar, a great supporter of the existence of the colonies. A former ally of the Prime Minister, he broke with Netanyahu at the end of 2020 and now promises to oust him from power.
Opposition leader MP Yair Lapid (acronym for centrist Yesh Atid) criticized the move. “This is an irresponsible announcement. Biden has yet to take office, and the government [de Israel] is already leading us to an unnecessary confrontation, ”said he, who is a former minister of Netanyahu.
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Israeli government is running out of time to try to approve the new buildings before Trump’s term ends.
Last year, the US president even tried to negotiate a peace deal in the region. According to the plan, backed by Netanyahu, the Palestinians would end up with fragmented territory, connected by roads and tunnels. The proposal was rejected by the Palestinians, who refused to participate in the negotiation because they considered the project pro-Israel.
The Republican team also sought to stimulate the resumption of relations between Arab countries with Israel, many of which were severed due to the Palestinian issue. In recent months, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have signed agreements with the Israeli government – none of which commented on Monday’s announcement.
The Republican is a great ally of Netanyahu. In November, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited a settlement in the West Bank and said he felt the construction of these houses did not violate international law, making Washington’s change of stance official. On the question.
However, much of the international community – including the UN and the European Union – does not agree with this understanding and there are strong expectations that Biden’s leadership will take over the previous position of the US government. , that Israel should not build housing in the disputed areas. .
By the 1947 UN resolution that divided the region and allowed for the establishment of the State of Israel, most of the West Bank should be under the control of the future Palestinian state.
Israel, however, took control of the region – as well as East Jerusalem – in 1967, during the Six Day War. Since then, thousands of Israelis have lived in settlements in the region. Currently, nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, among 3 million Palestinians.
The question is one of the most delicate points of the peace negotiations in the region, as the Palestinians demand the expulsion of the settlers. The Israeli government, for its part, claims Jews have historical ties to the region and refuses to debate withdrawal from the settlements.
The State of Israel has already been condemned by international courts because of the settlements, which often end up being at the center of tensions. We are a family business.
Last month, an Israeli settler, Esther Horgen, was killed while exercising near the West Bank settlement – a Palestinian suspect was arrested for the crime.
The victim’s husband even called on the Israeli government to step up occupation of the area in response to the episode. According to Monday’s announcement, the settlement where the couple and their six children lived, Tal Menashe, should receive 100 new homes.
In addition to this, new houses will be built in Beit El, Rehelim, Shavei Shomron, Barkan, Karnei Shomron and Givat Zeev. According to The Times of Israel website, a Defense Ministry panel is expected to approve construction of the houses next week, but there is no set date for the start of construction.