Israeli authorities approved on Thursday, February 27, the construction of nearly 1,800 housing units in West Bank settlements, illegal under international law, less than a week from legislative elections, crucial for the political future of the Prime Minister , Benjamin Netanyahu.
Authorities have given the green light to build 1,776 homes, including 620 in the settlement of Eli, and 534 in Shilo and Shvut Rachel in the West Bank, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. "We have approved many housing units in the settlements today and will continue to do so in the future", Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who is also head of the Yamina coalition (far right), said in the elections scheduled for Monday, March 2, said.
Colonial voters courted for legislative
"We don't wait, we act. We will not give an inch of the land of Israel to the Arabs, but for that, we must build there (housing) " said Bennett, also a member of Netanyahu’s provisional government who is courting the right-wing and colonial-friendly electorate for the poll in hopes of winning Monday’s legislative elections against rival centrist Benny Gantz.
These elections are all the more crucial for Mr. Netanyahu since he will have to go, as of mid-March, to justice, which accuses him of corruption, embezzlement and breach of trust in three cases.
This approval for the construction of 1,800 housing units was denounced by the Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) anti-colonialism Peace Now, which is closely monitoring this sensitive issue. For this one, "In the battle for the settlers' right-wing vote, Bennett and Netanyahu are pushing Israel to invest in thousands of useless and harmful housing in settlements."
David Elhayani, president of the Council of Yesha, the main organization representing the settlers of the West Bank, welcomed the decision which "Strengthen the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria".
"On Monday, we will go to vote and we are waiting for the government to be elected to continue to develop the settlements as it is today. "
A project that "violates international law"
On Tuesday February 25, the Israeli Prime Minister had already announced the construction of 3,500 new settler housing units in an area of the occupied West Bank where Bedouins live, near Jerusalem. If Israel builds in this area between the Jewish settlement of Maale Adoumim and Jerusalem, the West Bank will be cut in half, which would prevent the creation of a possible Palestinian state with territorial continuity, denounce the Palestinians and NGOs.
This project "Violates international law and breaks all red lines", then reacted a spokesman for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. "If the project goes ahead, it will put an end to the idea of a viable Palestinian state", according to Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, co-director of the NGO Jahalin Solidarity, which defends Bedouin families established in the E1 sector.
Netanyahu also promised last week to build thousands of homes in settlements in East Jerusalem. He had spoken of adding 2,200 housing units to the Har Homa settlement, founded in 1997, and 3,000 housing units for the "Jewish inhabitants" in the Givat Hamatos area, also in Jerusalem. This colony project at Givat Hamatos "Undermines the viability of a future Palestinian state", lambasted British diplomacy on Tuesday, like the French consulate.
Today, more than 600,000 people live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian sector of the occupied city and annexed by Israel. The colonization of these territories has accelerated in recent years under the leadership of Mr. Netanyahu and his Washington ally, President Donald Trump.
The latter presented in late January a draft settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which plans to make Jerusalem the capital "Indivisible" of Israel and the annexation of the Jordan Valley and some 130 Israeli settlements in the West Bank.