Israel’s Response to Statehood Bid: More Settlements

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Sources inside Israel confirm that the Ministry of Housing has decided to build 7,000 new units in the wake of widespread protests in Israel due to high housing prices. (Photo: AP - Alessio Romenzi)

Published Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Israeli government is speeding up the pace of settlement construction ahead of the Palestinian Authority’s upcoming bid for statehood at the UN.

Ramallah — Israeli occupation authorities are speeding up their plans to expand construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved on Monday the construction of 277 additional housing units in Neuman neighborhood in the settlement of Ariel, north of the West Bank. These units are part of a plan to build 430 additional settlement units. According to Haaretz newspaper, the housing units were previously approved, but the designated land had not been presented to the investors. Following Barak’s announcement, the settlement administration can allocate the plots for construction that is expected to end in three and a half years. According to the plan, 100 housing units will be reserved for settlers who were relocated from the Nitzarim settlement in Gaza Strip.

Since its formation in March 2009, Benjamin Netenyahu’s government has approved 492 settlement units in different regions of the West Bank, in addition to 500 units in the settlement of Itamar. Last Thursday, Interior Minister Eliyahu Yishai approved a plan to build 1,600 houses in the Ramat Shlomo settlement, north of occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli sources indicate that in the next few days, Yishai will approve the construction of 2,000 houses in Givat HaMatos settlement south of East Jerusalem and 700 houses in Givat Zeev settlement north of East Jerusalem. Israel’s Ministry of Interior approved 7,000 housing units in Haifa alone. More plans for settlement construction in other areas are expected to be ratified soon.

The announcement of plans for new settlement construction follows verbal US, European, Russian, and Turkish condemnation of an approved plan announced 10 days ago to construct 930 houses in Har Homah settlement in Jabal Abu Ghoneim, south of East Jerusalem. Sources inside Israel confirm that the Ministry of Housing has decided to build 7,000 new units in the wake of widespread protests in Israel due to high housing prices.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) in turn strongly condemned Israel’s decision to build hundreds of settlement units in Ariel settlement, north of the West Bank. Nabil Abu Rudaina, the PA’s spokesperson, calls it “an Israeli attempt to obstruct and destroy what is left of any effort to revive the peace process. Once again, these Israeli settlements only reinforce our determination to go to the UN and the Security Council to request membership for the state of Palestine in order to halt these Israeli measures.”

Politburo member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, MP Qais Abdul Karim, indicates that “the current right-wing extremist Israeli government is in a race against time and is trying to establish facts on the ground by expanding settlement construction everywhere, particularly in Jerusalem.” According to Karim, the occupation government is actively working to change the demographics of Jerusalem by removing the Palestinian Arab presence in the city. He says that the Israeli government is "exporting its internal crisis at the expense of the Palestinian people by expanding settlements.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Don't like your property boundaries? Just build on your neighbours, and shoot him if he comes near your new building. Now it's yours. And there are lots of precedents. Only in Palestine, but precedents nonetheless.

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