Peace Now is sharply critical of Israeli government plans to advance twice as many new housing units in the West Bank for Jews as for Palestinians, saying the decisions would further erode the two-state solution and prospects for peace.

According to Peace Now, the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration (HPC) is set to approve 30 plans for 2,862 units in Jewish settlements. Ninety percent of these units would be in settlements deep in the the West Bank.

Approval is also expected for six plans encompassing 1,303 Palestinian units in Area C, (which is 60 % of the West Bank and is under full Israeli civil and security control).

An article in Haaretz says that the green lighting of units for Palestinians “is intended to signal to the Palestinian Authority and the international community that Israel is keen to help the PA, which is grappling with an economic crisis that is damaging its popularity.”

Peace Now points out, however, that the plans are inadequate considering the huge housing need among Palestinians, caused by a decades-long policy of impeding Palestinian construction and development in Area C. Along with turning down permits and plans, Israel pursues a tough enforcement policy and demolishes hundreds of Palestinian homes and structures each year.

Peace Now notes that almost all the current plans for Palestinian housing have been awaiting the HPC’s approval for years and about half of the units in the plans up for consideration are for houses that have already been built. They would merely be legalized in retrospect. The end result would be “a very small expansion of the Palestinian villages and a drop in the ocean in terms of real Palestinian development needs.”

Meanwhile, a flood of prospective settler housing is slated for areas that Israel would have to evacuate if a viable Palestinian state were ever to be formed. The 30 settler plans on the table include massive expansions of the isolated settlements of Kedumin and Har Bracha (both near Nablus), Eli (between Nablus and Ramallah), and Revava in the Salfit area in the central West Bank. Also, two illegal outposts are being legalized.

If the approvals go ahead, the new housing okayed for settlers in 2021 would total 3,647 units. This is in addition to the recent publication of tenders for 1,355 settler units that had already been approved.

Also, settlers recently began construction of 31 new housing units in the Old City of Hebron. This highly provocative development is the first of its kind inside a Palestinian city in 20 years.

Peace Now: “Unfortunately, there is no longer any doubt this government is not a government of change but rather a government of annexation.”

Canadian Friends of Peace Now stands with our sister organization, Peace Now in Israel, in calling for an end to unbridled settlement expansion which cements the Occupation. Blocking the road to a two-state solution can only lead to an increasingly immoral and explosive one-state reality.

Read the full Peace Now reports here:

Tenders for 1355 units in settlements – Peace Now