Israel presses ahead with settlement expansion plans

JERUSALEM Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:31am EDT

Newly sworn-in Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah heads his first cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Newly sworn-in Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah heads his first cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is pressing on with plans for more than 1,000 new homes in two West Bank settlements, officials said on Thursday, moves that could complicate U.S. efforts to persuade Palestinians, seeking a construction freeze, to return to peace talks.

An Israeli settlers' council has asked Israeli zoning authorities in the occupied territory to approve the building of 550 housing units in Bruchin, an unauthorized outpost granted legal status by Israel last year.

The extent of Bruchin's expansion, where some 350 settlers live, had not been disclosed previously.

The officials said zoning authorities also received a plan from the council for the construction of 537 dwellings in the settlement of Itamar, along with the retroactive approval of 130 homes built there without permits.

The Itamar building proposal was announced in 2012 and approved by then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, after an Israeli couple and three of their children were killed in the settlement by two Palestinian attackers in 2011.

Israeli settlement expansion on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a future state alongside Israel has been the main stumbling block to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest attempts to revive peace talks that collapsed in 2010.

"The continuation of settlement activity is killing the two- state solution," Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told Reuters in response to news of the proposed housing projects. "The international community must take action before this solution dies."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has so far linked a resumption of peace talks to a total freeze in settlement construction, which Palestinians see as establishing facts on the ground that deny them land they need for a viable state.

Israel and the United States have urged Abbas to return to the negotiations without preconditions.

Opponents of the two construction plans now have two months in which to lodge objections against them. Further authorization by the current defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, is required before building permits can be issued.

Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured along with the Gaza Strip in the 1967 conflict. About 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Comments (3)
StevenFeldman wrote:
From 1840 to 1948, Jews were the majority population in Jerusalem and a large community in the territories known at the time as Judea and Samaria. Following UN Resolution 181 which endorsed a Jewish state, 7 Arab armies invaded Israel and along with the Arabs in Palestine, attempted to drive the Jews into the sea. They failed, although the Arab Legion successfully ethnically cleansed all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria of its Jewish inhabitants.

Those Jews and others are back (many living in their original homes) by right in League of Nations resolutions and Article 80 of the UN Charter. The land upon which their homes have been built was legally purchased, either by them or by organizations like the Jewish National Fund, often paying 10X the market value. They will resist being ethnically cleansed again.

Those are the facts and they will not be changed by propagandists like Jeffrey Heller and others of his ilk at Reuters who shamelessly parrot the supremacist rhetoric and demands of those monsters who carried out the ethnic cleansing of Jews 65 years ago.

Jun 13, 2013 10:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
writer122 wrote:
Wow! I am not surprised that Israel has approved more houses, again, to expand the illegal settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestine : this time a total of 1058 houses. After all, this is not the first time they have done so. I am shocked, however, at the behavior of the Palestinian leaders to Israel’s latest announcement about its settlements expansion: They have complained loudly again, knowing very well no one will listen to them or do anything about it, especially Kerry and the White House. Isn’t it time that Abbas learnt his lesson? He must stop complaining, and start acting, and take some meaningful action this time, such as going to the UN to submit the paperwork to join the ICC and join the ICJ also. He is not all that helpless, he should know. The only thing in the world the Israeli leaders are afraid of is: Being charged of War Crimes at the ICC in the Hague, and nothing else, because Netanyahu knows that Obama can not protect Israel at the ICC. The ICC is not the UN Security Council where Obama has the veto power. So Mr. Abbas, stop complaining, and start acting, and see some astonishingly positive results from your actions.
Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Jun 14, 2013 8:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
talknic wrote:
The acquisition of territory by war/force is inadmissible. This is either re-affirmed or emphasized in the UNSC resolutions. In order to acquire territory outside one’s sovereignty, it must be legally annexed with the consent of citizens to whom the territory belongs, through a referendum of the territory’s legitimate citizens, not including the citizens of the occupying power (see the legal annexation of Texas 1935, a move which was instrumental in the eventual adoption of Customary International Law). A) The territories it acquired by force by 1949 have not been legally annexed B) The annexation of East Jerusalem was declared illegal by
252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969, 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971, 446 (1979) of 22 March 1979, 452 (1979) 20 July 1979, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980, 476 June 30 1980 and 478 August 20 1980 …. Oh, and Israel’s annexation of the Golan was also condemned by the UNSC Res 497

Jun 14, 2013 9:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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