Israel Approves Construction of 891 Units in Settlement near Bethlehem

TEL AVIV, November 11, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Wednesday approved the construction of 891 housing units in the settlement of Gilo, illegally constructed on Palestinians’ land in Bethlehem in the West Bank, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

According to the daily, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a visit to the US, the municipality decided to announce the construction of settlement units near the town of Beit Jala.

The municipality claimed the construction plan was approved in 2013.

On Monday, Israel’s planning committee for construction in the West Bank approved the construction of another 2,200 new housing units in Ma’aleh Michmash settlement complex, east of Ramallah, and a plan to regularize two settlement outposts in the area.

The plan included the settlements of Ma’aleh Michmash, Rimonim, Kochav Hashahar, Tel Zion and Psagot, and the area south of the settlement of Ofra, Haaretz said.

The approval was granted in anticipation of a High Court of Justice hearing scheduled for Wednesday on a petition by the Yesh Din organization and Palestinians from the area who aim to evacuate the Mitzpeh Danny outpost, which the plan seeks to recognize.

Under the plan, by 2030 there will be 800 homes in Ma’aleh Michmash, an illegal settlement that serves as the central land reserve in the region, while 300 more homes will be added to Kochav Hashahar.

The plan seeks to regularize the Mitzpeh Danny and Neveh Erez outposts, in addition to tourism sites and an education complex.

To be noted, settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory and the Golan Heights, both occupied since 1967, are considered illegal in international law.

Numerous UN resolutions have stated that the building and existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are a violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979 and 1980.

UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and calls upon Israel to desist from transferring its own population into the territories or changing their demographic makeup.