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Israel’s Gantz advances Palestinian construction plans in West Bank

After advancing the construction of some 800 housing units in West Bank settlements, Defense Minister Benny Gantz takes an opposite, rare move, of advancing construction plans in Palestinian West Bank villages.

In a rare move, Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved yesterday a number of preliminary steps for Palestinian construction initiative in the West Bank. The steps will promote the legalization of hundreds of Palestinian structures in West Bank Area C, which makes it under Israeli security and administrative control. More specifically, among the projects that will be promoted are plans for the expansion of the Palestinian villages Al-Walaja and Hizma, a construction permit for a hotel in the Bethlehem area, a hearing on the submission of construction plans for a hotel in Beit Jala, and a hearing on retroactively regularizing several agricultural structures in the area of al-Fara in the northern West Bank.

The projects were discussed and advanced at a meeting of the Civil Administration’s Planning Subcommittee, which belongs to the Ministry of Defense. Over the years, most of the requests for Palestinian construction projects in Area C were denied. Between 2016 and 2018, only 21 out of the 1,485 Palestinian applications for construction permits in Area C were accepted. In 2019, the Security Cabinet approved some 700 construction permits for Palestinians — a move that apparently sought, on the one hand, to prevent the High Court from blocking demolitions of Palestinian property on the grounds that it is impossible for them to obtain construction permits, and on the other, to curb international criticism for blocking Palestinian construction. Still, according to publications, despite the political decision, only a handful of building permits had actually been issued by the Defense Ministry Planning Committee throughout 2019 and until June 2020.

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