Israel gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a plan to build 695 new homes in two neighboring settlements deep inside Judea and Samaria, drawing instantaneous rebuke from the United Nations and the Palestinians, and possibly threatening Israel’s relations with the U.S. a few weeks before Prime Minister Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to the White House.
Israeli defense officials played down the decision, suggesting construction won’t start for years.
The U.N.’s Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, called the Israeli announcement “deplorable” and said it “moves us further away from the goal of a two-state solution.”
Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, which tracks and publicizes settlement construction, called it the biggest settlement construction plan since Netanyahu took office three years ago.
If you put it that way, it actually sounds quite modest…
Palestinian spokesman Ghassan Khatib said Wednesday’s announcement “shows how Israel has no respect for the international community or international laws, while at the same time it sheds a light on the lack of effective actions by international community toward Israeli settlement policy.”
In January, 1978, a modern community was established on deserted land adjacent to the ancient biblical site, now called Tel Shilo, when a group affiliated with Gush Emunim arrived at the location to assert revenant rights. In 1979, the Israeli government officially authorized Shiloh’s status as a recognized village, administrated by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.
Shvut Rachel is named after Rachela Druk, a resident of Shiloh and mother of 7, and bus-driver Isaak Rofe, who were killed by terrorist fire in November, 1991. That same night a group of people settled at the place of the murder, today’s Rechelim. A little later, on the night of the two victims’ funerals, a group of students from the Shiloh Yeshiva founded Shvut Rachel in the name of the victims. Since then, Shvut Rachel has been growing and is of now teeming with life.