Israel promotes plans for 2,372 settler homes in the West Bank

JERUSALEM Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:01am EDT

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has promoted building plans for 2,372 homes in eight Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank in the past month, on land the Palestinians want for a future state, an anti-settlement watchdog has said.

The plans, the largest of which is for 839 homes in the Ariel settlement bloc, are at different stages of approval but none has yet been given the final green light needed from the Defence Ministry, Israeli Peace Now said.

Settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which with the Gaza Strip make up the territory of the Palestinians' planned independent state, is a major stumbling block in the already faltering peace talks between the sides.

An Israeli defense official said the plans were at the stage of "preliminary and basic discussions".

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said Israel was trying to derail the peace talks: "The Israelis are trying to push the talks to a dead end with this systematic escalation of continuing settlement activity."

Palestinians say settlements, built on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war and deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, bar them from establishing a viable and contiguous state.

Israel Peace Now said in a statement on Thursday the new building would "expand dramatically the settlements and ... pressure the Palestinians to resign from the current talks." It called on the government to stop "this wild behaviour."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month his government would be prepared to give up "some settlements" in the West Bank to help secure a peace agreement but that he would limit as much as he could the number of enclaves removed.

An Israeli government report, however, showed this month that construction starts on new settler homes had more than doubled last year. More than 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are home to about 2.8 million Palestinians.

U.S.-brokered peace talks resumed in July, but the negotiations appear to be making no progress. Washington is struggling to formulate agreed principles that would extend the talks beyond an original April target date for a final deal.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (4)
TBellchambers wrote:
This is Netanyahu’s 2-finger response to the US sponsored peace process. It is a clear declaration from Israel that it wants war, not peace.

It is an expression of the utmost contempt for the United Nations and the international democratic institutions of the world.

It says very clearly: we have 400 nuclear warheads and a fleet of cruise missile submarines kindly given to us by Germany. We will take over the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem and you are powerless to stop us. Unless, of course, you and EU discontinue bilateral trade. In which case we would go bankrupt. But you won’t do that will you. Our international lobby will see to that.

Mar 21, 2014 5:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
henrytobias wrote:
Building on our own land! Why not? The U.S. builds in Texas, New Mexico and California. The U.K. builds in the Malvinas and Gibraltar.

Mar 21, 2014 5:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
VultureTX wrote:
Simple solution for the Palestinians-

Sign a deal now, every day you delay (and it is Abbas delaying since he does not have a mandate), the amount of land available for “Palestine” will shrink with new construction growth of Israeli communities.

/Israel has zero plans to give up Jerusalem to anyone, and they claim it based on prior occupation and their prayers to return to it that date back millennial now.
//the jews offered to share Jerusalem back in the 40′s , the Arab League rejected it and declared war. Only Jordan and Egypt are now off the list of Illegal Aggressors for Israeli attacks , if Jerusalem is taken away.

Mar 21, 2014 8:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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