IOF plan to triple settlement activities in W. Bank

IOF plan to triple settlement activities in W. Bank

Council of settlements director Naftali Bennett revealed an Israeli plan to expand settlement construction in the West Bank to three times what it is now and raise the number of settlers to one million Israelis.

In an interview published by Reuters on Tuesday, Bennett said that he is doing his best to end the temporary freeze on settlement expansion which was ordered by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu last November.

“It would be a great mistake to continue this freeze,” he blatantly said. “Jews can build in New York, Moscow and Paris, but in our own land we can’t build? That’s nuts.”

In a related context, an Israeli study issued by Macro center for political economics said that Israel spent enormous amounts of money on building housing units throughout the West Bank without counting occupied Jerusalem.

According to Haaretz newspaper which published the study, the settlements in the West Bank alone currently contain 35,000 housing units at a total cost of 17. 5 billion dollars.

The newspaper said that this study revealed detailed information never been published before about the settlement situation in the West Bank.

The study affirmed that the private homes in the settlements are worth a total of $9 billion, apartments are worth $4.5 billion, roads are worth $1.7 billion, and public institutions, synagogues and bathhouses altogether are worth $0.5 billion.

In a new development, the Israeli government’s secretary Tzipi Howerz said Tuesday that Netanyahu intends to declare the construction of a number of settlement projects in different areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem upon his return from his current visit to the US.

In an interview with the Hebrew radio, Howerz said that Israel did not want to engage again in a dispute with the US administration if it declared these new projects during Netanyahu’s visit, adding that there is no change in the policy of construction pursued by Israel in Jerusalem.

In another incident, the Israeli municipal council in Jerusalem last Thursday gave final approval to a group of settlers for the construction of 20 apartments next to the controversial Shepherd hotel in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood east of the holy city.

This decision was taken hours before Netanyahu was to meet with US president Barack Obama in Washington.

The Shepherd hotel was purchased by an American Jewish mogul called Irving Moskowitz in 1985 for $1,000,000.

The Israeli local planning council had initially approved the plan in July, a move that angered Britain and the US and prompted them to call on Israel to cancel the plan.