Israel approves plans for almost 5,300 new homes in West Bank settlements

An Israeli anti-settlement monitoring group says the government has approved plans to build nearly 5,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank

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The Israeli government has approved plans to build nearly 5,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank, a monitoring group said Thursday, the latest move in a campaign to accelerate settlement expansion, aiming to cement Israeli control over the territory and prevent the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

Word of the decision emerged as an Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to send negotiators to resume Gaza ceasefire talks.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

Diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the nine-month war in Gaza appear to be stirring back to life after a weekslong hiatus. The night before, the militant Hamas group said it gave mediators its latest response to a US-backed proposal for a phased ceasefire.

Fighting has intensified between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, with the militant group saying Thursday it fired more than 200 rockets and exploding drones into northern Israel to avenge the killing of a senior commander in an Israeli airstrike the day before.

The relatively low-level conflict has literally set the border ablaze and raised fears of a potentially even more devastating war in the Middle East.

Hezbollah has said it will halt its attacks if there is a ceasefire between Hamas — a fellow Iran-backed ally — and Israel.

The Israeli anti-settlement monitoring Peace Now said the government’s Higher Planning Council had approved or advanced plans for 5,295 homes in dozens of settlements across the West Bank.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that oversees the planning council, referred questions to Netanyahu’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Netanyahu’s government is dominated by settlers and their supporters. The hardline nationalist finance minister, Bazalel Smotrich, himself a settler, has been put in charge of settlement policy. On Wednesday, Peace Now said Israel approved the largest seizure of land in the West Bank in over three decades.

The turbocharged settlement drive threatens to further stoke tensions in the West Bank, which has seen a surge in violence since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza – areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war – for an independent state. It could also rankle Israel’s ally, the United States, which speaks out against settlements, though it has done little to pressure Israel on the issue.

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