As Gaza burns, Israeli government approves new round of illegal settlements in West Bank
Bezalel Smotrich, center, the finance minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's government, announced approval for the construction of more homes for illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank on Wednesday. Smotrich is the colonial governor of the occupied territory. | AP

Israeli government proposals to build 3,500 new homes for illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank took a step forward Wednesday when far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that the project had received planning permission.

“We continue to build the country!” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the scheme received approval from the Higher Planning Council, which authorizes West Bank construction. “The enemies try to hurt and weaken us, but we will continue to build.”

New housing projects are seen in the illegal West Bank Israeli settlement of Givat Ze’ev, on June 18, 2023. | AP

The decision concerns 300 new homes in the Kedar settlement and 2,350 in Maale Adumim. It also advances a previously approved plan to build nearly 700 homes in Efrat to its final approval stage.

Smotrich unveiled the plan in February, prompting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to say that he was “disappointed,” a familiar refrain from the Biden administration lately.

The number of new settlement housing units approved in the West Bank since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took office has now risen to 15,775, according to Israeli activist group Peace Now, which is the highest number for 15 months since the watchdog began keeping count.

Meanwhile, offering a glimpse of hope to desperate Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, Cyprus said that its push to open a sea route for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged coastal enclave was receiving growing support.

Government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis announced that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would visit the island Thursday to inspect installations at the port of Larnaca, from where it is hoped that ships loaded with humanitarian aid will soon sail for Gaza.

Letymbiotis told reporters that that Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides will join von der Leyen at the port.

He added that interest in the Cypriot initiative to ship a steady stream of aid in large quantities to the Palestinian enclave some 240 miles away has gained traction, both within the EU and among other countries.

EU spokesman Eric Mamer said that the bloc hoped that the corridor’s opening would “take place very soon.”

European Commission spokesman Balazs Ujvari said the bloc has so far dispatched around 40 flights to deliver aid to Gaza, primarily through Egypt.

In Gaza, the Health Ministry said that the Palestinian death toll from the ongoing Israeli military onslaught had climbed to 30,717 after 86 bodies were brought to local hospitals in the preceding 24 hours, in addition to 113 wounded people.

Morning Star

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Morning Star
Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.