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31 Jul, 2019 09:47

Israeli settlers outraged as permits for 715 Palestinian homes approved before Kushner visit

Israeli settlers outraged as permits for 715 Palestinian homes approved before Kushner visit

Just days before Jared Kushner is due to visit, Israel has made an unusual move by approving permits for 715 homes for Palestinians in the West Bank, leading irate settlers to accuse the government of bowing to US pressure.

Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved the construction permits for units in Area C of the West Bank on Tuesday, the first such move since 2016. It is unclear whether the permits are for existing structures or for new construction. Significantly Haaretz is reporting that 6,000 Jewish settlement housing unit permits in the area were also approved. 

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Israeli settlers reacted to the news with outrage, despite getting approval for more than eight times as many units as the Palestinians. A joint statement from the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council and Samaria Regional Council accuses the Palestinian Authority of carrying out “massive illegal construction in these areas with the clear goal of establishing a terrorist state in the heart of the country.”

According to Israeli media reports, the unusual move could be the result of US pressure, as President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is due to visit Israel in the coming days as part of a Middle East trip to discuss his ‘deal of the century’ peace plan.

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“If it’s true that this is an American demand, then we expect our government to say loud and clear – enough!” Gush Etzion Regional Council boss Shlomo Neeman said. He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “stop the delusional demands of our great friend [Trump] who, if he is a friend, would understand.”

Israel controls security and land management in Area C of the West Bank, which is home to up to 300,000 Palestinians and 325,500 Israeli settlers. Palestinian construction is rarely approved by Israel, which blocks development by designating 60 percent of Area C as state land, national parks, or land for settlements, and by restricting Palestinian construction on the remaining land.  

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