Israel advances plans for 1,213 new West Bank settlement homes

JERUSALEM Tue Nov 6, 2012 6:17am EST

1 of 2. A Palestinian woman hangs laundry outside her house in front of a section of the controversial Israeli barrier in the Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank near Jerusalem May 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has announced plans to press ahead with construction of 1,213 homes on annexed West Bank land, defying international opposition to its settlement policies.

The Israel Land Administration on Monday published notices inviting bids from contractors to build on plots in Ramot and Pisgat Zeev, urban settlements that Israel has declared part of Jerusalem.

The plans call for the building of 607 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 606 in Ramot. Tens of thousands of Israelis already live in the two areas.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said on Tuesday that an additional tender for the construction of 72 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel was reissued on Monday after a previous notice failed to attract winning bidders.

Palestinians want to create a state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital but they say Israeli settlement building will cripple the viability of any future country.

Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the West Bank, which it captured in a 1967 war. Some 500,000 settlers and about 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Most countries consider settlements Israel has built in occupied territory as illegal under international law.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the central committee of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, said the decision to expand settlements "is another reason why Palestine must go to the United Nations" to seek an upgrade of its status to non-member state.

"We call upon the world to respond to this systematic Israeli policy with an overwhelming vote of support for the enhancement of Palestine's observer-state status," Shtayyeh said, accusing Israel of trying "to thwart international efforts to achieve peace".

Israel and the United States oppose the unilateral Palestinian move, and have called on Abbas to return to peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over the settlement issue.

A status upgrade at the United Nations would grant the Palestinians access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where they could file complaints against Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting of top cabinet members on Tuesday to discuss possible Israeli punitive measures against Abbas's Palestinian Authority in response to the U.N. bid.

(Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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Comments (6)
Abulafiah wrote:
Israel continues doing this, building and enlarging illegal settlements, and then whines that everybody dislikes them and call it ‘terrorism’ when Palestinians try to defend themselves.

This is basically Israel trying to wipe Palestine off the map.

Nov 06, 2012 7:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
AZreb wrote:
Although most countries do not approve of the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, our government (US) is joined at the hip with Israel. Funny if it were not so pathetic – Israel builds a 15 foot fence to keep illegals from entering but our own government invites them into our country and then supports them. Israel has used land mines in protecting its borders – our government supposedly does not approve but makes no criticism of Israel for doing this. A sick joke on the US taxpayers, and is it any wonder that we are accused of being hypocritical?

Nov 06, 2012 7:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
Publius1791 wrote:
Interesting paradox. Netanyahu demands action against Iran while at the U.N., waving cardboard posters depicting ‘red lines’ and calling for support for Israel’s position from member nations.

How brazen. Does he really think that the U.N should take him seriously when Israel is in direct violation of U.N. sanctions regarding the West Bank?

It’s time this double standard that’s applied to Israel is removed. If Israel wants to be respected by the world community then start playing by their rules.

Nov 06, 2012 8:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
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