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June 14, 2017 11:17 am

Defense Minister: West Bank Construction at Highest Level in More Than 20 Years

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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Ariel Hermoni / Israeli Defense Ministry. – The number of buildings being constructed in the West Bank is at its highest in more than 20 years, and any additional construction would put the Jewish communities in the disputed territories at risk, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.

“Anyone who claims that it was possible to approve more construction in the settlements is not just trying to stretch the rope but to tear it completely, thereby endangering the entire settlement enterprise,” Lieberman said at the Israeli cabinet’s weekly meeting, responding to recent criticism from community leaders in the West Bank who claimed current construction levels were insufficient.

“There was and will not be a government that will take better care of the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria….The [construction] numbers for the first half of 2017 are the highest since 1992,” Lieberman added, noting that 3,651 new housing units were approved during the week preceding his comments, bringing the total for this year to 8,345 units.

As defense minister, Lieberman is responsible for authorizing each new construction approval issued by Israel’s Civil Administration High Planning Subcommittee.

During a ceremony last week at the Israeli Knesset to mark the Gregorian calendar’s 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to “preserve” and “strengthen” Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank.

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