In one strike in the Battle of Area C, Israel allowed 900 Palestinian homes

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved the expansion of a Palestinian base in Area C of the West Bank with nearly 900 apartments, which is seen as a blow to the right-wing struggle to preserve this land for sovereign Israel.

The Civil Administration rarely grants Palestinians permission to build in Area C, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.

But the Civil Administration plans next week to hold a hearing on the possible approval of at least 863 homes, many of which were built illegally.

The potential change in Israeli policy toward Palestinian construction in Area C comes as the Civil Administration decides next week advance plans Of the more than 2,223 Jewish homes in Area C.

The plans for the new homes – which include several isolated settlements – represent the first major push to build new Jewish homes in Area C since US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office in May.

It breaks what the right calls a de facto freeze on settlement planning.

The Civil Administration issued hearings on construction plans for settlers and Palestinians after CIA Director in Israel William Burns held separate meetings with Prime Minister Naftali. Bennett Tuesday and Gantz Wednesday.

In Burns’ meeting with Gantz, the Defense Department said the two men discussed “various intelligence cooperation initiatives and the need to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and additional moderate actors in the region.”

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Israel is under pressure from the United States to take initiatives on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and stop unilateral measures such as settlement activities and demolishing illegal Palestinian homes.

The international community in particular has blamed Israel for demolishing Palestinian homes without a building permit.

These two issues sparked controversy within the Bennett alliance. The Israeli right, which includes Bennett’s Yamina party and the New Hope party, has spoken out against Palestinian construction in Area C, which it wants to include within Israel’s sovereign borders.

The Palestinian Authority, the left wing of Bennett’s government like Meretz, and most of the international community believe that Area C should be included within the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Bennett’s attempt to quell US, international and national objections to settlement activity through Gantz comes with plans for Palestinian construction ahead of his first meeting with Biden in Washington.

No date has been set for the complaint, which could come later this month or the end of September.

During the tenure of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there were a number of attempts to advance large-scale Palestinian construction in Area C, particularly during the Obama administration, but none of them came to fruition.

The Civil Administration approved a smaller plan for 140 Palestinian homes in Area C at the end of the Trump administration in January when it submitted plans for more than 780 homes for settlers.

According to the left-wing Peace Now group, only 98 residency permits were issued to Palestinians between 2009 and 2018.

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Opponents of Palestinian construction in Area C sounded alarm bells about the suspended permits, while supporters said the 863 pending permits were just a fraction of what was needed.

Eretz Yisrael Bloc co-chairs Yav Kish (Likud) and Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party) warned that the Bennett administration is setting a “dangerous precedent” for Palestinian construction by throwing crumbs at settlers. She plans to hold an emergency meeting in the Knesset.

MK Michael Wadger (Religious Zionist Party) said the move “is in fact an acceptance of the Palestinian Authority’s plans to occupy the Land of Israel.”

The Meretz party protested the construction of the settlements and asked Gantz to inform the Supreme Planning Council that it would not allow soil mining in the settlers’ settlement plans once they were approved.

Meretz said such construction would be seen as a “challenge” to the international community. He warned that this contradicts the principle of consensus on which the alliance was founded.

Peace Now has spoken out against plans to build more than 2,000 Jewish homes, warning that it would “undermine chances of restoring Palestinian confidence and put a finger in the eye of the Biden government.”

The left-wing “Combatants for Peace” group said that the outrageous decision to deepen the occupation project contradicts the status quo and the coalition agreements.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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