Monday, August 12, 2013

Israel announces raft of new settlement homes days ahead of Palestinian peace talks

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.

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