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Israel Unfreezes 1,800 New Judea and Samaria Homes

Hours after tenders on 1,500 new homes announced, previously frozen plans unblocked in latest response to PLO unity government.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/5/2014, 4:20 PM

Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Flash 90

Plans to construct 1,800 new housing units in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem were unblocked on Thursday, hours after tenders on 1,500 new homes in the region were announced.

"The political echelon has ordered the Civil Administration to advance 1,800 new (housing) units," an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Civil Administration is the IDF unit appointed tasked with the planning and management of Judea and Samaria.

The unblocked plans include homes in ten separate communities throughout Judea and Samaria, all of which are at different stages of planning.

The plans reportedly had been frozen by the government roughly three months ago, even though a building freeze was not an official part of the peace talks that fell apart just ahead of their April 29 deadline.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly admitted last week that he had folded to American demands at the time and canceled the Civil Administration's high planning council meetings. The move effectively froze all building and development in the region.

Earlier on Wednesday night, the Housing Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration issued tenders for 1,500 new homes in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem as part of Israel's response to the establishment of the Hamas-Fatah unity government on Monday.

Of the homes, 223 are to be built in Efrat, 484 in Beitar Ilit, 38 in Geva Binyamin (Adam), 76 in Ariel, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 210 in Givat Zeev, and 400 in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The move apparently irritated US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who condemned the Jewish construction in the heart of the Jewish state on Thursday.

"The building tenders announced by the Ministry of Housing are modest and long overdue," responded Dani Dayan, foreign envoy for the Yesha Council. "I cannot comprehend how the US and EU are quick to condemn putting roofs over young Israeli families, while embracing the new Palestinian Islamist terrorist government.”

The American condemnation was not enough for the PA, which called on the US later on Thursday to take "serious steps" against Israel over the move.

For its part, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the international recognized organization governing the "Palestinian people" which has never renounced terrorism, vowed to appeal to the UN Security Council over the construction.