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Middle East

Israel approves more illegal settlement homes

Government approves 381 new homes near Ramallah, bringing to 2,530 the number of new homes signed off this year.

Last updated: 22 Jan 2014 06:22
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Givat Zeev, near Ramallah, will be expanded in the latest round of approvals [Reuters]

Israel has moved ahead with plans for another 381 homes in the occupied West Bank, the third such announcement in two weeks and raising to 2,530 the number of new settler homes declared this year.

The new construction will be in Givat Zeev, an illegal settlement immediately south of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Peace Now spokesman Lior Amihai told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.  

"The Israeli Civil Administration, which falls under the defence ministry, has published plans for the construction of 381 extra units in Givat Zeev," he said.

On January 6, Israel approved plans for 272 new homes in various illegal West Bank settlements. Four days later, it unveiled plans for more than 1,877 new units, some in occupied East Jerusalem.

Peace talks

Last July, Israel and the Palestinians embarked on nine months of direct negotiations, at the urging of US Secretary of State John Kerry, but over the past six months Israel has not slowed its construction in the occupied territories.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said the message was clear. "Netanyahu's government does not want peace," he said.

"This decision confirms that Netanyahu's government only wants to continue settlement building, which will destroy any possible peace.

"With very little progress visible and the April deadline for a framework agreement looming, Erakat said there was no chance the Palestinians would contemplate any extension of the talks.

"We've not been presented with a [plan for] extending negotiations, but we will not extend them for even an additional day after the nine month period we agreed on," he said.

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