On Wednesday, Bennett granted the green light for the expansion of the Efrat settlement, located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds, by about 275 acres (1.11 square kilometers), when he endorsed the plan for some 7,000 new housing units in the 11,000-resident municipality, Israeli English-language daily newspaper the Jerusalem Post reported.
“This morning, I approved the construction of thousands of new housing units in Efrat in Gush Etzion. I instructed the defense establishment to continue to strengthen the settlement resolutely. The construction momentum … must not be stopped for even a moment,” Bennett announced on his Facebook page earlier in the day.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the Israeli plan.
“Such Israeli decisions constitute an utter disregard for the international law and a flagrant defiance of the international outcry against Israeli settlement construction activities and the potential annexation plan,” the ministry said in a statement.
It added, “Such settlement construction approvals also constitute an act of disrespect for international warnings that increased settlement construction activities and possible annexation of parts of the West Bank would gravely threaten regional stability, and would undermine the prospects for the (so-called) two-state solution.”
“Israel is clearly exploiting the international preoccupation with the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic and blatant US bias in favor of its expansionist policies to further expropriate Palestinian lands.”
The development took place only three days after the senior Israeli official approved the expropriation of Palestinian-owned land and property in the southern occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil to construct an elevator and a ramp to facilitate the entry of Jewish settlers to the Ibrahimi Mosque, without the agreement of the city hall.