Israeli settlement plans in occupied West Bank have been doubled three times in the first three months of 2016 in comparison with the same period of the previous year, an Israeli watchdog organization revealed Tuesday.
Peace Now said that from January to March this year, the Israeli government pushed forward plans for building 674 housing units in settlements in occupied Palestinian territory — considered illegal under international law — despite its declared “planning freeze.” This is compared to 194 homes in the first quarter of 2015, the watchdog added.
Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now said that the numbers show that the supposed “freeze” in planning, was “not a freeze at all. Quietly and behind the scenes, West Bank construction is being promoted, including in isolated settlements.” Ofran pointed out that settlement construction projects must pass through five administrative steps before receiving the final approval from the Israeli war minister Moshe Yaalon. Such increase in settlement construction promoted by Netanyahu’s government makes achieving the two-state solution impossible, Ofran said. There are now some 550,000 Israeli settlers living in Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.