"On 10 January 2018, the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee met and approved a total of 1,122 new housing units in 20 settlements and outposts throughout the West Bank. In addition, tenders for 651 units were published this morning (11 January)," the group, championing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said in a statement.
The figures revealed by the advocacy group somewhat differ from those mentioned by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. On January 9, Liberman announced his intention to present to the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Subcommittee an immediate construction plan for 1,285 homes for 2018, with additional 2,500 homes to be advanced through earlier planning stages.
"According to the information at my disposal, nearly all [of the plans] were approved," the minister’s spokeswoman told Sputnik on Thursday.
The Shalom Achshav group suggested that the plans that had not been approved would "be pushed for in the coming days."
The group accused the Israeli government of attempts to "destroy the possibility of a two-state solution and the prospects of peace" in the region "by building more and more in the settlements." It also emphasized that the plans included the "temporary" approval of seven structures in the Nativ Ha’Avot outpost, despite the High Court of Justice’s ruling to evacuate the buildings located on private Palestinian land by March 6, 2018.
The conflict in the disputed area of West Bank has been recently aggravated by the controversial US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital and to move the country's embassy there. This ruling has triggered mass protests around the world, as well as an outrage of Muslim community.
The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in the occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations.
In late December 2017, Israel's cabinet approved on Wednesday funding worth some 40 million shekels ($11 million) for the West Bank settlements, in defiance to reportof the report of UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), issued in May 2017, claiming that the Israeli presence in West Bank was the biggest obstacle to meeting the "humanitarian needs" of the Palestinians.