In response to an Israeli announcement earlier on Wednesday of the approval of almost 2,000 new homes in Yehudah and Shomron, the White House expressed its disapproval, however gently.
“The president has made his position on new settlement activity clear, and we encourage all parties to continue to work towards peace,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.
“The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration,” the spokesperson said.
“The United States welcomes this. As the president has said repeatedly, the administration is firmly committed to pursuing a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Israeli Defense Ministry approved on Wednesday plans for the construction of 1,957 in Yehudah and Shomron.
Of that number, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee gave final approval to 696 housing units, while the remaining 1,262 were okayed through an earlier planning stage known as a “deposit.”
About 300 of the units in the former batch are located in towns outside the so-called “settlement blocs” that most Israeli leaders assert will be part of Israel in any final status deal with the Palestinians.
Some 450 permits were earmarked for Gush Etzion. They include 170 units in Neve Daniel, 84 in Kfar Eldad and another 38 in Kfar Etzion, in addition to the 150 approved by the council last time, according to Arutz Sheva.
The Gush Etzion Council continues to pursue plans for 17,000 housing units in the region, with hopes that ways can be found to reduce the time it takes to obtain final approval for building.
Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said, “We thank the government for the hundreds of units that were approved today in Gush Etzion, together with some 2,500 units in the rest of Judea and Samaria. Even so, we again call on the government to remove all restrictions on construction in Judea and Samaria – we need a lot more! We will continue to submit more and more plans, we will continue to build, we will continue to develop Gush Etzion and we will work towards full sovereignty. “