JERUSALEM, Oct. 3 (UPI) — Israel approved plans for 98 new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, drawing criticism from those promoting a two-state solution.
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria advanced the plan for the homes, as well as one for an industrial park, near the West Bank capital of Ramallah. The practice of permitting settlers to occupy land destined, if a two-state solution becomes a reality, to become Palestinian territory is regarded as a stumbling block to the resumption of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is also viewed as illegal under international law, and has been criticized by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.
“The government’s decision to reward settlers who stole private Palestinian lands will make the rest of Israel’s law-abiding citizens pay a heavy political price,” a statement from Peace Now, an Israeli non-governmental group, said.
The 98 homes are part of a 300-unit settlement, as yet unbuilt, and initially intended to be used by residents in Amona. The Amona settlement was ordered demolished by Dec. 25 by Israel’s High Court of Justice, which said the homes were constructed on Palestinian property without the appropriate permits.