Israeli settlers accused the government on Wednesday of holding up construction of more than 4,000 apartments in large West Bank enclaves, suggesting that Israel was quietly complying with U.S. demands to reinstate a building moratorium that expired in late September.
Some 4,300 apartments have all the necessary construction permits, but Barak has not authorized the state to put these projects out to bid, in effect freezing them, Bennett said. He provided a documented list of projects that he said were being held up.
Palestinian spokesman Ghassan Khatib said any drag on construction was irrelevant because construction continues elsewhere at a pace that outstrips that of recent years.
“That’s why it doesn’t make any sense to consider that there is any kind of freeze or any kind of slowdown. We can say the opposite,” Khatib said.
As previously reported by The Associated Press, Israel has begun work on some
600 apartments across the West Bank since the 10-month moratorium expired – at least double the pace of the previous two years.
That work has begun because all necessary approvals had already been obtained before the slowdown went into effect last November. Many of those apartments are being built in outlying settlements expected to be evacuated under any peace deal with the Palestinians.
The overwhelming majority of the apartments that Bennett referred to lie in large settlement blocs that Israel expects to hold on to in any peace deal. These blocs are located close to Israel proper, and Israel would presumably swap an equivalent amount of territory with the Palestinians.