August 12, 2013
The Israeli government has backed the construction of nearly 1,200
new apartments for Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West
Bank, just three days ahead of scheduled peace talks with Palestinians.
Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a member of the ultranationalist
Jewish Home Party, said in a Sunday statement that in order to meet the
needs of Israeli citizens, more apartments are going to be built in the
West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“No country in the world takes orders from other countries where it can build and where it can’t,” Ariel said in a statement, promising to “continue to market housing and build in the entire country.”
Israel’s Housing Ministry announced that tenders for 793 new
apartments in East Jerusalem and 394 units in the West Bank settlements
of Ariel, Efrat, Maale Adumim, and Betar have been issued. The land was
seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.
Considered illegal by most world powers, Israeli settlement
construction on previously occupied Palestinian land regularly serves as
a major stumbling block in peace talks with Palestinians.
The last direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
collapsed in 2010 because of Israel’s illegal settlement activities.
Palestine’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that the
announcement of more new homes in Jewish settlements is a deliberate
attempt to scupper peace talks, which are due to resume on Wednesday.