Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes

Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes
Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last month vowed to expand settlements, in response to Palestinian gunmen killing an Israeli civilian and wounding several others in the West Bank. — AFP pic

JERUSALEM, March 7 — The Israeli government has pushed forward construction plans for 3,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a hardline minister said yesterday.

The move comes after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last month vowed to expand settlements, in response to Palestinian gunmen killing an Israeli civilian and wounding several others in the West Bank.

“Nearly 3,500 settlement units,” minister Orit Strock wrote Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.

“We promised — we are delivering... Together we will continue to advance the settlements,” added Struck, an ally of fellow extreme-right settler Smotrich.

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The move also came as Israel is engaged in a war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip since the Islamist group’s deadly attack on southern Israeli communities on October 7.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee, across Maale Adumim and Kedar, east of Jerusalem, and Efrat, south of the city.

“Our enemies must know that any harm done to us would result in more construction, more development and even more control over the entire country,” Smotrich said after three Palestinian gunmen shot dead an Israeli and injured several near Maale Adumim settlement on February 22.

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Greenlighting the next step for the pre-planned homes comes less than two weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any Israeli settlement expansion would be “counterproductive to reaching enduring peace” with the Palestinians.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal international law.

Despite opposition abroad, Israel has in recent decades build dozens of settlements across the West Bank.

They are now home to more than 490,000 Israelis, who live alongside around three million Palestinians in the territory. — AFP

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