Israel breaking settlement records, says Peace Now

JERUSALEM Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:39am EST

A mosque in the Palestinian West Bank village of Abdullah Ibrahim (rear) is seen behind houses in West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat, near Bethlehem December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A mosque in the Palestinian West Bank village of Abdullah Ibrahim (rear) is seen behind houses in West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat, near Bethlehem December 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's government broke all its settlement-building records in 2011, diminishing prospects for establishing a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, Israel's anti-settlement activist group "Peace Now" said Tuesday.

The group's annual report on building in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank - land the Palestinians want for a future state along with the Gaza Strip - showed that despite international calls to halt construction, thousands of new homes were being built.

"In 2011 (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu broke his government's building records and turned it into a very fruitful year for the settlers and a very sad one for the citizens of Israel," Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer said.

"At the current rate of building we will lose the chance for a two-state solution."

A government spokesman said Israel was exercising restraint in settlement building and pointed to a 10-month building freeze in 2010.

"The current Israeli government has been attacked by the political leadership of the settler movement for being the worst ... when it comes to building in the settlements ... we have shown great restraint," spokesman Mark Regev said.

Direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians broke down over a year ago after Israel refused to bow to demands that it cease all settlement building and extend the freeze which it imposed on building in the West Bank.

Jordan is hosting diplomatic efforts to re-start the talks that have been promoted by the Quartet of peace brokers - the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations.

The Palestinians say settlements would deny them a viable state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war, and in Gaza, which Israel relinquished to Palestinian control in 2005.

Peace Now reported a 20 percent increase in settlement construction during the year and said about 35 percent of 1,850 housing starts were on land beyond a separation barrier Israel is erecting, which is expected to demarcate Palestinian areas.

The report added that building was also underway on another 3,500 houses already begun and it listed continuing work in 142 settlements. It said much of the building was intended for religious Jews who cite biblical links to the land.

Since Israel captured the West Bank, home to about 2.6 million Palestinians, around half a million Jews have settled in the territory. They include 200,000 who live around Jerusalem on land Israel annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

A Palestinian government spokesman said Peace Now's figures were proof of the accuracy of their warnings about settlements.

"(The report) shows the credibility and seriousness of the Palestinian warnings to world," spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.

"By allowing Israel to build ... it will destroy all the opportunities to continue the peace process and it will wreck the opportunity for a two-state solution as these settlements are being built on land that will be part of the future Palestinian state."

(Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by David Stamp)

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Comments (5)
ladygoodman wrote:
In every age a manifestation of Love and Glory appears in the Earth; and in an essence, all are one. But something special in the archetypal pattern of spirituality and its becoming manifested individually in man, has been and is demonstrated in the life of Jesus that relates to the pattern of the world’s spiritual salvation as a whole. It relates to those conditions associated with the Jewish people, who symbolize the will of man; and where the will of man is not transformed, there is no hope. – Ray Stanford, Fatima Prophecy

Jan 10, 2012 11:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Israel has killed far more Palestinian children than the Palestinians have killed Israeli children. Israel was formed by immigrating Europeans who then began a terrorist campaign against the British and the Palestinian natives.

Israel coninuously steals land. Then when the Palestinians resist their land stealing, the Israel propaganda machine, the most adroit in the world, calls the Palestinians terrorists.

In fact, it is the Israelis that are the terrorist, and brutally so. The Israelis bulldoze the home of any Palestinian who speaks out againt their land-stealing. Any Palestians that try to prevent the bulldozing are shot, and labeled as terrorists.

Israel is an apartheid nation, but far more brutal and murderous than the long gone apartheid government of South Africa.

Yet, if anybody criticizes Israel, he is quickly called anti-semitic.

Iran criticizes Israel, but invades nobody, kills nobody. Israel kills, bulldozes, assasinates at will across the world. Israel builds many nuclear bombs, and Americans dare not criticize them or their land-stealing.

Jan 10, 2012 12:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
USAalltheway wrote:
Palestinians are masters of propoganda. Palestinians are a blood thirsty people with no interest in peace. They don’t deserve a state

Jan 10, 2012 1:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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