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update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Israel to build thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria

The U.S. administration is said to be pressuring Israel's coalition government to nix or minimize the plan. 

The Jewish town of Karnei Shomron in Judea and Samaria, on June 4, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
The Jewish town of Karnei Shomron in Judea and Samaria, on June 4, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Israel has notified the Biden administration that later this month it will announce plans for thousands of new homes in Judea and Samaria.

Three Israeli and U.S. officials confirmed to Axios that Jerusalem had informed Washington of the pending move, which will include at least 4,000 housing units in several existing communities.

The Israeli Civil Administration Planning and Zoning Committee is scheduled to convene before the end of June to approve the new construction, according to the report. Israel’s Civil Administration oversees civilian matters, including construction, in Area C of Judea and Samaria.

Israeli and U.S. officials said the Biden administration is pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to nix or minimize the announcement. 

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby responded to a question about the report during Monday’s White House briefing, reiterating the administration’s view that expanding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is an obstacle to a two-state solution.

Axios quoted a State Department spokesperson as saying that it is “critical for all parties to uphold the commitments made at regional meetings in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh to avoid measures that undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.”

The Aqaba (February 26) and Sharm el Sheikh (March 19) summits brought the Israelis and Palestinians together for negotiations for the first time in more than a decade. The summits were sponsored by the U.S., Jordan and Egypt.

Israel last Thursday notified the Biden administration of its decision to postpone for the third time a hearing on a proposed housing project in the E1 (East 1) zone east of Jerusalem.

The Biden administration and European countries have expressed concern about the project, which would see 3,412 homes built in a new neighborhood of Ma’ale Adumim.

The subcommittee meeting on the E1 project was originally scheduled for last September but was postponed until March 27. It was then pushed off to Monday before the latest postponement.

A plan to link Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem has been frozen for nearly 30 years due to U.S. and European opposition. At the heart of the controversy is the competition between Israel and the Palestinians over the continuity of construction—east-west (Israel) or north-south (Palestinians).

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