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Middle East
Israel 'in new settlement drive'
Israeli report says Tel Aviv constructing new housese despite agreements to stop.
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2009 13:38 GMT
Every new settlement construction makes a Palestinian homeland seem less likely [EPA] 

An Israeli settlement watchdog has revealed that about 800 new housing units are being built in settlements across the West Bank, in addition to the thousands already under construction.

Despite US calls for Israel to stop building on occupied land, Peace Now said the new building projects began over the past three months in 34 settlements.

In addition, the watchdog's report notes that 55 buildings are in the process of being completed and foundations are being laid for an additional 50.

The projects are not among the 2,400 houses already in different stages of construction that Israel aims to complete despite agreeing to a temporary halt in settlement construction.

"The settlers are working fast to produce as many construction starts as possible so that these new housing units will be counted as existing settlements and not included in any future agreed upon freeze," the report said.

Illegal

Washington has been pressing hard for Israel to halt all construction work on occupied Palestinian land ahead of the resumption of Middle East peace talks. Israel has so far balked at the demand.

Israeli settler colonies are widely considered as the main hurdle in the way of comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Under the Roadmap For Peace plan brokered by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia in 2002, Israel has to "dismantle settlement outposts erected since 2001 and also freeze all settlement activities".

It is estimated that there are almost 200,000 illegal Jewish settlers in the 12 or so Israeli settlements in Jerusalem. There are also about 300,000 more illegal Jewish settlers living in settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law because they are erected on occupied lands that the Palestinians claim for a future state.

Source:
Agencies
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