Huge Expansion for Efrat, Other Settlements in Etzion Bloc Planned

27 February 2009

Ma’an – A key Israeli government agency has been promoting plans to build thousands of new houses in illegal West Bank settlements, government documents made public on Friday show.

Documents from Israel’s Civil Administration, the government organ responsible for nonmilitary affairs in the occupied West Bank, were obtained by the organization B’Tselem through a Freedom of Information request.

The plans, developed over the last two years, were approved by the Environment Subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s planning wing and plot out a major expansion of the Gush Eztion settlement bloc. If realized the plan will cut a swath of the West Bank adjacent to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and annex it to the new settlement areas.

The initial construction would see 550 apartments constructed in an area beside the Allon Shevut settlement, followed by an additional 4,450. At present this area is inhabited by just 12 settler families. In neighboring Bat Ayin, currently home to 120 families, 2,000 apartments are planned.

The documents show that Ma’ale Adumim, a major settlement east of Jerusalem, has also planned to add 3,500 housing units in the E1 area, a key slice of land that, if confiscated by Israel, would slice the West Bank sliced into two zones, essentially cutting off the north from the south.