The Higher Planning Council (HPC) of the Civil Administration approved today plans to build 780 housing units in settlements, most of them deep in the West Bank (714 units (92%) in settlements that Israel will have to evacuate under a peace agreement, according to the Geneva Initiative model). Among other things, the HPC approved for deposit the legalization of two illegal outposts: Havat Yair with 96 units of which 82 units are already (illegally) built, as a “neighborhood” of the Yakir settlement, and the outpost of Nofei Nehemiah with 118 units, as a “neighborhood” of the Rehelim settlement which itself was an illegal outpost that was legalized in recent years.

Earlier in the day, the HPC discussed several housing plans for Palestinians in Area C, although according to reports, the Prime Minister’s Office today asked to cancel the hearing due to settlers’ pressure. This is in addition to the pressure put by settlers last week which led to the removal of three plans for Palestinian villages from the committee’s agenda.

No decisions were made during the discussion and the committee is expected to publish its decisions in the coming days, but the spirit of the discussion shows that:

1. There is an intention to approve the plan to legalize 70 existing housing units in the Palestinian village of Hizma + an addition of 70 new housing units.

2. The HPC is intending to condition the approval of the plan for the Palestinian village of Walajeh, with the approval of a new bypass road for settlers (which will “be compensated” by the construction of the plan for about 1,000 housing units for settlers in the new planned settlement of “Givat HaGamal” in Har Gilo). It is important to note that the discussion of the plan of Walajeh was forced on the HPC following the High Court’s decision that the plan should be discussed.

3. Apparently the HPC did not approve the plan to legalize a school in the Bedouin community of Wadi A-Sik in the western slopes of the Jordan Valley.

4. Apparently the HPC approved two hotels and an amusement park on the outskirts of Area B (but in Area C), and a 200 square-meter cooling building for a Palestinian farmer in the Jordan Valley.

These approvals are almost insignificant in terms of the true needs of the Palestinians in Brea C. It should be mentioned that in 2020 alone, 12,159 housing units were approved for Israeli settlements, while only 245 housing units, many of which already exist, were approved for Palestinians (note that 245 units for Palestinians is a lot compared to previous years).

Peace Now: “By promoting hundreds of settlement units, Prime Minister Netanyahu is once again putting his personal political interests over those of the country. Not only will this settlement activity erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with the Palestinians in the long-term, but in the short-term it needlessly sets Israel on a collision course with the incoming Biden administration.”

Peace Now is the largest and longest-standing Israeli movement advocating for peace through public pressure. Under the mission of arriving at peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, Peace Now currently works to ensure Israelis embrace the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: two states, meaning the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. www.peacenow/