JERUSALEM, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 277 housing units in Ariel in the West Bank.
Israel Radio said Monday 100 of the 277 housing units will be allocated to evacuees of the 2005 Gaza Strip disengagement and the rest will be sold on the open market.
Construction is expected to take three years, the report said.
The defense minister’s approval comes less than a week after Interior Minister Eli Yishai approved the construction of 4,300 housing units in Jerusalem over a period of years to ease the lack of housing. The move sparked sharp condemnation from the United States, European Union and Turkey.
Established in 1978, Ariel is sometimes called the capital of Samaria, the West Bank region in which it is located.
In July, the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction published tenders for 336 housing units in the West Bank. According to the tender, 294 new homes will be built in Beitar Illit outside Jerusalem and 42 in Karnei Shomron near Kfar Saba.
In April, Barak approved master plans for four West Bank settlements paving the way for construction of new housing units. At the time an adviser to Barak told The Jerusalem Post the settlements — Nofiim, Eshkol, Rotem and Hemdat — are on state land and considered legal.