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article imageOp-Ed: Israel gives initial approval for 800 plus new homes on West Bank

By Ken Hanly     Aug 8, 2013 in Politics
Jerusalem - Even after Israeli Palestinian peace talks have just resumed, Israel has given preliminary approval for construction of more than 800 new homes in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank
Guy Inbar, spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank run by the military noted that actual construction would still need to be signed off by the government. Peace Now an Israeli anti-settlement group estimated the number of homes involved at 1,096 and claims they are earmarked to eleven different illegal settlements some of them deep within the West Bank. The Israeli move may possibly complicate US-sponsored peace negotiations with Palestine.
In past meetings the Palestinians have demanded a freeze on settlements but this time the Israelis not only did not agree to a freeze but listed a number of settlements as being on the national priorities map that would give them preferential treatment by various ministries. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) committee member Hanan Ashrawi denounced the Israeli move as a “confidence destruction measure.” Ashrawi said: “While Palestine has cooperated with international efforts to seek a two-state solution on the 1967 border, Israel is responding once again by destroying the 1967 border and violating international law. Israeli attempts to grab more Palestinian land and to provide settlers with preferential treatment will not be tolerated.”
Israel wants to annex major West Bank settlement blocs in any peace agreement, most of which are close to the Israeli border. Most world powers regard all the settlements as illegal and the Palestinians say the enclaves could very well deprive them of a viable state with contiguous borders.
Israel has been expanding the settlement not just in terms of size but in terms of numbers of settlers. The settler population in the West Bank has increased by 7,700 just in the last six months. This is a 2.1 per cent rise during six months whereas the annual population growth in all of Israel is 2 per cent. The EU in response to Israel's continued expansion of settlements has banned EU financial aid to Israeli organizations within the occupied territories. Palestinian officials have yet to comment on the new Israeli settlement plans.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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