Peace Now: Israel has plans for over 55,500 West Bank housing units

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Ministry of Housing is working on plans for more than 55,500 units in West Bank settlements, according to a new Peace Now report.

More than half the units are for construction east of the security barrier and include more than 8,000 units in the controversial E1 area, two new settlements and the legalization of at least six outposts, said the report, which was issued Monday.

The information was provided to Peace Now by the Housing Ministry following a freedom of information petition, according to the organization.

In response to the report, Israel’s housing minister, Yoav Galant, reportedly denied that there are plans to develop E1, the corridor between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. Settlement of the area would deny a contiguous area for a future Palestinian state.

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The Peace Now report said the ministry paid more than $900,000 to plan for the E1 housing units without releasing public tenders, which could tip off Israelis and world leaders who are against building in the settlements. It comes more than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a similar plan for the neighborhood following an international outcry.

Additional housing units are planned as well for Maale Adumim, Givat Eitam near Efrat, and two settlements near Talmon and Givat Zeev, according to the report.

The ministry also funded illegal projects in at least nine settlements, including Itamar and Shiloh, according to the report.

Peace Now also reported a plan for 21 housing units for Jews in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near Herod’s Gate.

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