Israel faces widespread condemnation for its announcement of new housing in Jewish towns. 1,500 new housing units approved for construction.
PA: “Continued settlement construction may lead political process to a deadlock.”
By Shlomo Cesana, Yoni Hirsch & Daniel Siryoti
Israel is facing widespread criticism over its decision to approve settlement construction in Judea and Samaria following Tuesday night’s release of Palestinian prisoners.
The community of Maaleh Adumim in Judea and Samaria [Archive] – Photo: Reuters
On Wednesday, Israel Hayom revealed the list of 1,500 units approved for building in the Ramat Shlomo and Gilo neighborhoods of Jerusalem and in other areas beyond the Green Line. The same day, the Settlement Subcommittee of the Interior Ministry’s Supreme Planning Council advanced the building of almost 600 homes east of the security barrier: 296 in Beit El, 150 in Yakir, 31 in Almog and 95 in Shiloh. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the plans for immediate construction.
At a Knesset plenary meeting on Wednesday, Deputy Minister MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), acting as government representative, read the list of settlements and the number of housing units to be built.
“Construction in Judea and Samaria is continuing, will continue and will grow,” Akunis said.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) responded: “The prime minister is repeatedly specifically sending Deputy Minister Akunis to comment on the government’s behalf on political issues in the government, despite his seemingly contradictory stance to that of the government, and this testifies to the prime minister’s true stance and intention.”
Meretz Chairwoman MK Zehava Gal-on and Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer reacted similarly to the announcement.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We do not consider continued settlement activity or east Jerusalem construction to be steps that create a positive environment for the negotiations. At no time in the course of pursuing negotiations toward a two-state solution have we condoned settlement activity or east Jerusalem construction.” She also addressed the Palestinian prisoner release, calling it “difficult but necessary.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the Israeli construction plans.
The Palestinian Authority also condemned the announcement, but claimed to be unsurprised by it. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, repeatedly denied that agreements with Israel for construction in the major settlement blocs were made in the course of negotiations.
“Continued settlement construction may lead the political process to a deadlock,” he said.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=12993