[QODLink]
Middle East

Israel okays new settler homes near Ramallah

Civil administration approves building of 296 units in occupied West Bank as US seeks to restart peace talks, army says.

Last Modified: 09 May 2013 12:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The announcement comes just two days after a report stated the Israeli prime minister had ordered a freeze [Reuters]

Israel has given the go-ahead to build nearly 300 houses in a settlement near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, an army spokesman has said, in a move likely to spark tensions as Washington seeks to restart peace talks.

The army said on Thursday the plan was compensation for Israelis who were evicted last year from another settlement, Ulpana, an unauthorised outpost which was evacuated after a court ruling.

"The Civil Administration has given the green light for 296 housing units at Beit El, but this is only the first stage of a process before actual construction can begin," the spokesman said on Thursday.

The announcement comes just two days after a report said Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, had quietly ordered a freeze on tenders for new settler homes in a bid to give a chance to US-led efforts to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian negotiator, responded to the announcement saying, "We condemn this new decision which is proof that the Israeli government wants to sabotage and ruin the US administration's efforts to revive the peace process."

"This is a message to the American adminstration and a blow to the peace process," he said, pointing to the "intense" shuttle diplomacy being conducted by the US Secretary of State John Kerry to try to bring both sides back to negotiations.

"This aims to drag the region into violence instead of peace and stability," Erakat added.

Hagit Ofran of Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog denounced the decision.

"This initiative proves Netanyahu is deceiving the world," she said.

"On the one hand, he lets us believe that he is putting the brakes on settlement and on the other, he gives the go-ahead for an enormous building project."

Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, are one of the biggest roadblocks in peace talks that broke down shortly after they were launched in September 2010.

The Palestinians say they will not return to negotiations unless Israel freezes construction on land they want for a future state.

338

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Indonesia's digerati could be crucial to success in the country's upcoming presidential election.
How Brazil's football legend turned every Corinthians' match into a political meeting for democracy.
As the Pakistani army battles Taliban forces, civilians in North Waziristan face an arduous escape for relative safety.
Nepalese trade in a libido-boosting fungus is booming but experts warn over-exploitation could destroy ecosystem.
Featured
Israel's strategy in Gaza remains uncertain, as internal politics are at play for PM Netanyahu.
Greece is holding as many as 6,000 migrants in detention centres, in conditions that have been called appalling.
Long derided for trivialising women, Bollywood is shrugging off its trademark social apathy by upping anti-rape crusade.
Survey of more than 300 colleges shows 40 percent do; highlights lack of training for administrators, law enforcement.
Three years after independence, South Sudan still struggles to escape poverty and conflict.
join our mailing list