Sunday, July 12, 2020

Israel Approves Nearly 300 New Homes in Beit El Settlement

By Tadas Blinda - May 20, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Beit il] [settlements] [outposts] [Settlers]

The Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.


On Wednesday, May 8 2013, Israel approved the construction of 296 new homes in the Beit El settlement near Ramallah. This move is likely to increase tensions as US Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that have stalled since 2010.

The plan was announced two days after Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered a freeze on tenders for new settler houses in the West Bank to avoid harming US efforts in bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiations.

This approval comes as part of a compensation plan for settlers evicted from the unauthorized Ulpana outpost, built on the outskirts of Beit El settlement, in return for their cooperation in evacuating the 5 homes orded to be demolished by the Supreme Court on July 1 2012.

Peace Now, an Israeli activist group, said Netanyahu's reported freeze would apply only to larger settlements,as the procedure of issuing tenders was not necessary for construction in smaller settlements such as Beit El.

"This initiative proves Netanyahu is deceiving the world," Hagit Ofran of Israel’s Peace Now Settlement Watch Project told AFP on May 9.

"On the one hand, he lets us believe that he is putting the brakes on settlement and on the other, he gives the go-ahead for an enormous building project."

According to Peace Now, it seems that Netanyahu is deceiving the public by claiming to have restrained the construction in settlements. The reported pause in publication of new tenders is halting only a small part of the construction in settlements, while the construction on the ground continues, and the initiation of new plans, even in isolated settlements, continues as well.

The Beit El settlement. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.


Beit El settlement is located in the northern outskirts of Ramallah and has approximately 900 housing units. A plan to add 296 homes will expand settlement by a significant 33 percent. None of the future peace plans involves annexation of this area to Israel.

"We condemn this new decision which is proof that the Israeli government wants to sabotage and ruin the US administration's efforts to revive the peace process," Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

"This is a message to the American administration and a blow to the peace process," he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to head to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories for the fourth time on May 21-22 to have talks with Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in effort to renew the peace process.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed shortly after they started in September 2010 due to continued settlement construction by Israel in the occupied territories. The Palestinian side refuses to return to the negotiating table unless Israel completely freezes illegal settlement building on future Palestinian state land.

Settlements are officially recognized by the state of Israel and are home to the vast majority of illegal Israeli civilian occupants of the West Bank. Outposts are new areas captured by a small number of youths or families, who try to build a community without the official recognition and support of the Israeli government. Regardless of their recognition by Israel, all settlements and outposts are considered to be illegal under international law.

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