Israel approves building 7,157 new housing units in West Bank settlements

Israeli President Isaac Herzog (R, Front) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L, Front) pose for a group photo with members of the new government at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on Dec. 29, 2022. (JINI via Xinhua)

Israel has approved plans to build 7,157 new housing units in the settlements in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli settlement watchdog group said Thursday.

The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration, an Israeli body responsible for approving construction in the West Bank, approved the building plans after two days of discussions that began on Wednesday, according to a statement released by Peace Now.

Out of the planned new housing units, 5,257 units are being advanced with preliminary approval, while 1,900 are waiting for the final approval required for the construction to begin, it said.

This represents one of the largest settlement expansion projects approved in recent years, compared to 4,427 housing units approved in 2022 and 3,645 units in 2021, it added.

The move came fewer than two months after the swearing-in of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, which is dominated by ultra-nationalist and pro-settler parties.

On Wednesday, an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus killed 11 Palestinians and injured 102 others, aggravating the already tense ties between Israelis and Palestinians.