Israel approves new settlements in West Bank

Watchdog organisation warns plan could 'derail' Middle East peace process, as talks remain at an impasse.

    Israel approves new settlements in West Bank
    The new homes would be built in a handful of settlements north of Jerusalem [REUTERS]

    Israeli authorities have green-lighted the construction of 800 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

    Israel's Defence Ministry said on Monday it had approved a planning stage for the housing earlier this month - an initial step in a protracted bureaucratic process, with construction not expected to begin for months.

    Settlement watchdog Peace Now swiftly criticised the announcement.

    "This is yet another move that threatens to derail the peace process," group spokesman Lior Amihai said.

    Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, has warned that ongoing settlement-building by Israel in the Palestinian territories threatens the future of Middle East peace talks, which stand at an impasse little more than three months after they began.

    The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, to become part of a future state.

    The new homes would be built north of Jerusalem in the settlements of Givat Zeev, Nofei Prat, Shilo, Givat Salit and Nokdim, Amihai said.

    The latest move comes two weeks after Israel announced its largest plan for settler homes ever, saying some 20,000 would be built in the West Bank.

    But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled the order after pressure from the United States, which brought the two sides to the table in July.

    If peace talks end with no deal, the Palestinians have vowed to pursue legal action against Israel's illegal building through international courts.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.