Israel is exercising its right according to international law to build housing for residents in territories it captured in a defensive war in 1967.
Israel on Wednesday approved plans for hundreds of new housing units for Israelis in Judea and Samaria, Israeli media reported, prompting a swift condemnation from the Obama administration, as in previous such cases.
While several countries oppose Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, its historical heartland, Israel says Jews have been in those areas for centuries, and that their presence there does not undermine prospects for peace. It also blames failed peace efforts on Arab denials of Jews’ historical connections to the land.
In the latest approvals, an Israeli military planning committee advanced plans for 463 housing units in a number communities, Israel’s Haaretz reported, quoting to the ultra-left-wing Peace Now group.
Of those, 51 housing units will be newly built, while 178 units built without permits in one community in the 1980s received retroactive approval, Haaretz reported.
In addition, the report says the military committee gave initial approval to build a senior citizens’ home of 234 housing units in another community.
Judea and Samaria is home to over 400,000 Israelis.
White House is ‘Troubled’
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the approvals a “significant expansion of settlement activity” and said the development “poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We are particularly troubled by a policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements,” Earnest said. “I think we have been quite unambiguous about the concerns we have on this issue.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF unit responsible for implementing government policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip and which oversees such housing approvals, did not comment.
By: AP and United with Israel
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