Israel approves hundreds of settlement homes before Trump administration exits
(Sourced from PTI)
Israeli authorities on Sunday advanced plans to build an additional 780 homes in West Bank settlements, anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now said, in a last-minute surge of approvals before the friendly Trump administration leaves office later this week. The settlement will not only erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with Palestine but will also set Israel on a collision course with the Biden administration.
The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future independent state. The growing settler population, approaching some 5,00,000 people, makes it increasingly difficult to achieve their dream of independence. Israel approved or advanced construction of over 12,000 settlements in 2020, the highest in a year since it began recording statistics in 2012.
The group accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of putting personal political interests over those of the country. Netanyahu's office, however, had no comment, but last week, he said he would seek approvals for the construction projects. They include 100 homes in Tal Menashe, a settlement where an Israeli woman was killed last month in an attack for which a Palestinian man has been charged.
Notably, Israel stepped up settlement construction during Trump's presidency. However, a string of US administrations, and the rest of the international community, opposed settlement construction. But the Trump administration, surrounded by a team of advisors with close ties to the settler movement, announced in a landmark decision in 2018 that it did not consider settlements to be illegal under international law.
As a result, Israel approved plans for over 27,000 settler homes during Trump's four-year term, more than 2.5 times the number approved during the Obama administration's second term, according to Peace Now. However, president-elect Joe Biden is expected to return to the traditional US position of opposing settlements, setting the stage for a possible clash with Netanyahu.