New Building Initiative for Yehudah and Shomron

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -

Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of more than 800 new homes in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

Guy Inbar, spokesman for Israel’s military-run Civil Administration in the region, said initial plans to build the homes were approved on Wednesday, though actual construction would require a green light from the government.

“This is a lengthy process,” said Inbar, who did not immediately provide further details on the plans.

Palestinian officials did not immediately comment on the initiative.

The Civil Administration authorized construction of 878 housing units in the Binyamin region, the Jordan Valley, and Gush Etzion, Ha’aretz reported Thursday.

The approvals had been set to be issued several weeks ago, but were postponed due to the efforts to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Those talks hinged on the release of Arab terrorists from Israeli prisons, government minister Silvan Shalom said in an interview on Israel Radio Sunday.

According to Shalom, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was prepared to offer them a building freeze in Yehudah and Shomron — but the PA rejected that offer, demanding that the terrorists be released instead.

Construction was approved for 112 new homes in Shilo in Binyamin, 559 units in Talmon (north of Modiin), 38 in Kochav Yaakov (northeast of Yerushalayim), and 31 in Alon Shvut (in Gush Etzion). Most of those on the list are located outside the major “blocs”that the government has said will remain part of Israel in any final agreement.