Israel announced plans to build 100 new homes in two Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinians condemning the move as another blow to ongoing peace talks begun in Nov. 2007. (Report: R. Tompsett)
A Housing Ministry advertisement published in an Israeli newspaper invited construction firms to bid for the rights to build 48 homes in Ariel, a major
The 2003 peace “road map”, reaffirmed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders at a conference hosted by U.S. President George W. Bush in November, requires a halt to all settlement activity on occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood. The new tenders drew censure from the administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which recently began implementing its own road map obligation of dismantling anti-Israel factions. The security crackdown, however, is taking place only in the West Bank as Abbas lost control of the other Palestinian territory,
“We condemn these plans and resolutions, which really undermine the peace process,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, adding that Abbas would discuss the issue during White House talks with Bush next week.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in keeping with the previous government’s policy, has vowed to keep
The Olmert government argues that this warrants the continued building of homes within in the settlement blocs, though
“The current government never undertook not to build within settlement blocs,” Israeli Housing Minister Zeev Boim said in a statement regarding the Ariel and Elkana tenders.
“Moreover, the current construction is intended to address internal needs of natural growth” in the settlements, he said.
Bush signalled tacit
Olmert, a centrist, is under pressure from nationalist members of his coalition government to keep up construction in
But Israel Radio reported that the Ariel and Elkana tenders could be challenged by the centre-left Labour party, Olmert’s biggest coalition partner, given concern they would undermine talks with the Palestinians.
Date created : 2008-04-18