News / Middle East

Israel Approves New Settlement Homes

A laborer stands by a construction vehicle near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, seen in this July 18, 2011, file photo.
A laborer stands by a construction vehicle near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, seen in this July 18, 2011, file photo.
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VOA News
Israel is inviting contractors to build almost 1,200 new homes in occupied territory claimed by the Palestinians.

The controversial move comes three days before Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are set to resume in Jerusalem.

Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel gave final approval for the new homes Sunday. He is seeking bids for about 800 apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and another 400 units in four West Bank settlements.

Palestinian officials criticized the announcement, accusing Israel of bad faith ahead of Wednesday's planned meeting of Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in Jerusalem. Israel approved the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners Sunday in advance of the talks.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem and the West Bank for a future independent state. They say Israeli settlement expansion will make it harder for them to achieve that.

"We urge the Israeli government to stop these settlement activities and give the peace process the chance it deserves in order to reach the two-state solution, said Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The U.S. government has long refused to accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity. It calls on both Israelis and Palestinians to avoid actions that complicate negotiations.

Ariel rejected that criticism, saying "no country in the world takes orders from other states about where it can build." He said Israel will continue settlement activity as the "right thing" to do for Zionism and the economy.

Also Sunday, Israel approved the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners -- the first of about 100 prisoners to be freed. Israel agreed to release the prisoners as a Palestinian condition to revive peace talks. Many of them have been jailed for decades for carrying out deadly attacks on Israelis.

Some of the more conservative members of the Israeli cabinet object to the prisoner release, calling it a reward for terrorism.

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Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 13, 2013 7:20 AM
Sometimes VOA takes stand like extremist islamist Palestinian in refusing to showcase ideas and ideals that entail certain historical positions and/or misgivings that make up the news carried on these pages. But like it or not, Israel's position is either a balance between the Palestinians' choice of release of terrorists in preference to land swap and an abstract desire to live in their God-given land which the world has connived with the Arab world to cede to the Palestinians.

Out there in Iran, Turkey and the Arab lands it is called the 'Resistance" by which they mean to outlaw Israel and deny it a right of existence. But Israel has come to be! It's a shame to them all to even reference that term against a small country of less than ten million besieged by over half a billion people scattered all over and surrounding it, except on the west coast where it has the Mediterranean Sea. Like it or not, Israel is reluctant to relinquish their God-given land of promise otherwise called the Promised Land. Ref. Isaiah 49:16-26; 65:17-26. Two state solution is not an ideal equation to get to the promised land. For now only Israel knows this.

In Response

by: Taha from: Virginia
August 13, 2013 7:25 PM
Israel is playing with fire. No nation can be kept under oppression forever. Israel should learn from its history of not distant past.
It is good for the future of Israel and Palestine to emerge as two nations side by side and friends. This will also help world peace and stability and save trillions that we owe today.


by: mrd
August 13, 2013 12:17 AM
The US is complicit in this Israeli thievery. Historic biased US actions has encouraged Israel to steal, and conduct cruel inhuman and ethnic cleansing practices towards the Palestinians. Biblical history and from other sources evidences the fact that historic Palestine was occupied by Palestinians well before Moses made his exodus from Egypt.

In Response

by: Rusty from: usa
August 13, 2013 7:18 PM
YES,YES,YES


by: Johnny Re from: Kelowna
August 12, 2013 11:48 PM
it'd be cristall clear even to the most stupid person on earth that the regime in Israel has no interest in peace.. now or ever. They'll do anything to block any meaningful "negotiations.. even under the most hilarious pretense. The corner blocks for WW#3 are set..thanks to this rogue regime in Israel. Shame..shame ! ! !


by: Adil from: India
August 12, 2013 11:17 PM
Why is world blinded by Israel settlements? why isn't US doing anything about it?, they are the main of peace process between them and Palestine.


by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Victoria, BC, Canada
August 12, 2013 1:09 PM

Releasing two dozen old prisoners in order to ease Palestinian pain of Israel building 1187 new homes for at least triple that number of Jews on stolen Arab land is, depending on where you stand nationally and religiously, either a great deal or a total disaster.
Native American Indians, who have a sad history of being destroyed by such “treaties” will tell anybody listening it is a disguised form of what today is almost politely called ethnic cleansing.

In Response

by: wal man from: boston, ma
August 12, 2013 11:34 PM
Just where was this land stolen from? From what I can remember Egypt started a war and they lost. They lost land claimed by Israel. The so called Palestinians have no claim to the land or to the ancient peoples they took the name from. They are Arabs. To legitimize these people who have literally wasted generations in the pursuit of destroying Israel is amazing to me. Since 1948 they haven't even produced pocket combs! But they sure can dig and make bombs and shoot from behind children and women. Why should Israel continue to give up high ground? So the Arabs can shoot at them better?


by: TonyBellchambers from: London
August 12, 2013 2:22 AM

It is instructive that these Palestinian political prisoners jailed for attempting to regain stolen lands are termed criminals whilst the Irgun terrorists who massacred the entire Arab village at Deir Yassin are termed freedom fighters as are the terrorists who blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem killing 91 innocent people.

And of course the IDF soldiers who killed 307 children under the age of sixteen in Gaza in 2008 are heroes.


by: Richard from: Manchester
August 11, 2013 6:57 PM
The Palestinians were offered a settlement freeze before the latest peace talks began, but the Palestinians asked for the prisoner release instead. This clearly shows that the Palestinians are more interested in bringing home Jew-murdering terrorists and makes a mockery of their absurd claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace. If the settlements are so controversial, then why reject the offer a freeze?

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 13, 2013 11:15 AM
My message is wrongly directed at Paul instead of rc from: US. Pls read as corrected.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 13, 2013 11:13 AM
Can people like Paul from: US shut up and keep silent forever! The hateful venom in him is large enough to kill the entire North Korean army during the 3rd world war. But reserve it for the D-day, and don't be surprised how the sun will stand still until God's own people have had their victory. You wish Palestine has some people supporting it right now, but then we shall see who will have the upper hand. So simply shut up and let the situation sort out itself - as God lives.

In Response

by: Paul from: US
August 12, 2013 11:41 PM
Richard from Manchester, can you provide like for your sources... Thanks

In Response

by: rc from: US
August 12, 2013 11:27 PM
It is not hard - if you study history - to see what is going to happen to Israel if it keeps building these settlements, and refuses to give Palestine the same rights that Israel was given. It will not be pretty.. and the usa will get dragged into it. Forget the back and forth, and forget the positions.. and Richard.. forget what the Palestinians did or the Israelis did. The settlements are sowing the destruction of Israel as surely as anything else the nation could do to commit suicide.
It gives the Palestinians and others a burning reason to hate Israel.. and those millions full of hate will soon outnumber the jewish people based on my readings. How is Israel going to keep the rabid foes at bay - given that kind of hatred... If they had settled this long ago... things would be so much better...maybe not perfect... but so much better... but now.. it is only a matter of time before something really bad happens.. and many people on both sides will be killed when it does. I want Israel to be vibrant and to keep surviving and flourishing, but what they are doing is like playing Russian roulette.. eventually that bullet will be in the chamber-- and blood will be everywhere.

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