By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“Our government continues to change the rules of the game in the occupied West Bank, leading to irreversible harm.”

The Israeli government has approved 5,295 new housing units in dozens of settlements throughout the occupied West Bank, according to a settlement watchdog group.

“The building plans include the expansion of settlements deep within the West Bank and the legalization of three outposts: Mahane Gadi, Givat Hanan (Susya East), and Kedem Arava as ‘neighborhoods’ of existing settlements,” the Israeli Peace Now group said in a report on Thursday.

This is in addition to the five settlement outposts approved by the Israeli cabinet last week, the statement said.

Peace Now said that for the first time since the establishment of the Settlement Administration by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the legal advisor to the Higher Planning Council (HPC) “was a civilian and not an officer as in the past.”

“(Benjamin) Netanyahu and Smotrich’s agenda became evident through the decisions of the Planning Council: approval for thousands of housing units, the establishment of three new settlements, and strategic appointments of Smotrich’s allies in key roles instead of military personnel underscore the annexation occurring in the West Bank,” the watchdog said.

‘Protecting Security’ – Israel Approves Smotrich’s Plan to Legalize Five Settlements

The council’s agenda initially included plans for more than 6,000 housing units, but the approved number “stands at 5,295 because only the initial planning stage was approved for some of the plans.”

“Our government continues to change the rules of the game in the occupied West Bank, leading to irreversible harm,” the organization said.

Largest Annexation in Decades

The report comes a day after the watchdog said the Israeli government had approved the largest land seizure in the West Bank in over three decades.

Peace Now said Tel Aviv appropriated around 23,700 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year – the largest appropriation of land since the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Largest West Bank Land Seizure in Decades – Israel Speeds Up Settlement Activity

“The size of the area designated for declaration is the largest since the Oslo Accords, and the year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land,” the Peace Now organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

Settlement outposts are small communities established by illegal Israeli settlers on privately owned Palestinian land without approval from the Israeli government.

‘Organized Settler Violence’

According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Israel “is working to drive Palestinian pastoral communities out of their homes” in the occupied West Bank, combining “official practices” and “organized settler violence” to achieve its aims.

B’Tselem said in a report last month that Israel works “to drive Palestinian pastoral communities out of their homes, “in order to take over their areas of habitation, including farmland and pastureland, and use them for its own purposes.”

‘Israel Uses Official Practices, Settler Violence to Drive Palestinian Pastoral Communities Off Land’ – B’tselem

“To that end, it combines official practices, implemented by branches of the state such as the Civil Administration and the military, with an unofficial arm of organized settler violence and harassment.”

Estimates indicate that around 700,000 Israeli settlers live in roughly 300 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the Middle East Monitor (MEMO).

All Jewish settlements and outposts in the Occupied Territories are considered illegal under international law.


The post ‘Irreversible Harm’ – Israel Approves Three Settlement Outposts, Thousands of Housing Units in West Bank appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

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