Israel Approves New West Bank Homes, Marking End of Informal Building Freeze
Israeli planning authorities approved the construction of 153 new apartments in West Bank settlements last week, effectively putting an end to an informal construction freeze that has lasted about 18 months.
For almost two years now, the government has largely refused to advance new building plans in the territories, due to fear that the U.S. administration would retaliate by refusing to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council. The only plans that did move forward involved either legalization of existing outposts or master plans for areas where petitions to the High Court of Justice spurred the government to act.
There was an 18 month settlement freeze? That must have been big news. No doubt John Kerry celebrated the fact, right?
Well, except in October, when he said, "there’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years" and linked settlements to violence against Israelis.
And except for when Kerry said in December, "The continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult."
Israel had a settlement freeze, yet the Obama administration and J-Street and Haaretz and Peace Now all the others who insist that Israel stop settlement construction were all but silent. Israel gained nothing politically from making that decision - on the contrary, it was treated as if settlement construction was accelerating. Netanyahu couldn't argue because of coalition politics, but certainly all of the players who follow the issue knew this very well - and chose to excoriate Israel anyway for implementing a policy that it didn't have.
So what incentive does Israel have to continue the freeze when it is treated like a criminal when it does?
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.