Israel’s decision to approve permits for the building of more than 450 new homes in the occupied West Bank has brought criticism from several quarters.
Only hours after the announcement, right-wing ministers joined settler leaders in protest at what they claim is a mere gesture before the government implements a general construction freeze. Palestinian leaders say the new homes undermine Israel as a partner for peace while Israeli left wing groups have voiced their anger over the continued construction, which is illegal under international law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the new homes are only on land that Israel intends to keep in any future peace deal with the Palestinians. This, he hopes, will appease Washington which has stipulated a total freeze. Members within Netanyahu’s own Likud party are resisting any halt to settler expansion.