Jordan said on Sunday that it “rejects and condemns” Israel’s plans to build 1,355 housing units in Yehuda and Shomron, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The statement follows a comment on Friday from U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price saying that the U.S. was “concerned” about the matter. He called on Israel and the Palestinians to “refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tension and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution” to the conflict. There have been reports in recent days about Washington pressuring the Bennett government to freeze building.
The Jordanian condemnation comes after the two countries signed an agreement last week to double Israel’s supply of fresh water to Jordan, welcomed as a sign of easing tensions.
Marketing tenders for the housing units were published on Sunday by the Israel Land Authority and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
The announcement listed 729 units in Ariel, 346 units in Beit El, 102 in Elkana, 90 in Geva Binyamin, 57 in Emanuel, 22 in Karnei Shomron and one in Beitar Illit.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Haitham Abu al-Foul “warned against building new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to Jordan’s news agency Petra.
He described the Israeli move as “a violation of international law and relevant Security Council resolutions.”
Meanwhile, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin hailed the decision:
“As we promised, we delivered,” said Elkin. “Strengthening and expanding Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is a necessary and very important thing in the vision of the Zionist enterprise. After a long period of stagnation in construction in Judea and Samaria, I welcome the marketing of over 1,000 housing units. I will continue to maintain Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.”
The head of the Beit El council Shai Alon responded elatedly: “This is a holiday for Beit El. “We have now taken the critical step in order to evacuate the IDF and bring the cranes to start work. Together with extensive commercial areas to be built, we will soon be able to see in Beit El images we have not known on the way to becoming a mother city in Israel and the capital of Binyamin.”
Alon reportedly worked with the Prime Minister’s Office and Housing Ministry in order to obtain approval for the tenders.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz, a coalition member, denounced the news, charging that “the right-wing government does not count Meretz” and is “10 degrees to the right of the previous government.”
Elkin rebuffed Raz: “I am not imposing on Meretz people whether they go to meet [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] or not; I would behave differently. So they will of course not impose [their opinion] on me and force me to freeze construction in Yehuda and Shomron,” referring to a recent meeting they held with Abbas in Ramallah.
“About 10% of Israeli citizens live beyond the Green Line. They also deserve apartments and that’s natural,” Elkin tells Channel 13 news.