Israel has approved some 4,000 new settlement units as part of a massive settlement project spanning across occupied East Jerusalem and into West Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.
Jerusalem’s planning and construction committee approved the project earlier this week, paving the way for 4,416 housing new units in the city.
According to local reports, units will be built in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, 464 in the Gilo settlement which is built on the lands of the Beit Jala town in Bethlehem, and 480 units in the West Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kiryat Yuval and Kiryat Menachem.
“This is happy news for me and young couples in the city of Jerusalem,” Jerusalem’s mayor Moshe Lion said.
“We will increase housing units and bring back the youth to their home. This is the beginning, and soon Jerusalem’s sky will be filled with cranes.”
The settlement project will also reportedly see the expansion of the occupied West Bank industrial zone of Atarot, located in the central district of Ramallah.
The news comes just two weeks after reports that dozens of Israeli ministers and senior lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud and other right-wing parties signed a petition to promote a settlement plan that would settle 2 million Jews in the occupied West Bank.
According to the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), among the people who signed the declaration were Israel’s ministers for justice, education, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and Jerusalem affairs, public security, culture, communications, immigration, and social equality.
The movement’s declaration reads: “I hereby commit to be loyal to the land of Israel, not to cede one inch of our inheritance from our forefathers. I hereby commit to act to realize the settlement plan for the settlement of 2 million Jews in Judea and Samaria…as well as to encourage and lead the redemption of all the lands throughout Judea and Samaria. I commit to act to cancel the declaration of two states for two peoples and replace it with the stately declaration: ‘The land of Israel: One country for one people.’ ”
JNS quoted the so-called Nahala movement in a statement, saying the signing of the petition ahead of the elections “constitutes an ideological and ethical loyalty test for the various contenders.”
There are an estimated 622,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in settlements that are considered illegal under international law.
Many of the settlements are built on privately owned Palestinian lands, with investigations finding that nearly all West Bank land deals for the settlements are forged.
Israeli settlers often move to the occupied territory for political and religious reasons, with many regarding themselves as inhabiting a land that is rightfully theirs — and staking their claim to that land through violence against Palestinians and their property.