News / Middle East

Israel Has Initial Plans for 24,000 More Settler Homes in Occupied West Bank

FILE - Men work on the roof of a house under construction in the unauthorized Jewish settler outpost of Havat Gilad, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, Nov. 2013.
FILE - Men work on the roof of a house under construction in the unauthorized Jewish settler outpost of Havat Gilad, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, Nov. 2013.
Reuters
— Israel is making plans to build nearly 24,000 more settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, an anti-settlement group said on Tuesday, questioning the government's commitment to peace talks with the Palestinians.

Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state, said the Housing Ministry had issued tenders late last month for drawing up construction plans, but that no building work was imminent.

“With tenders for planning, what we are seeing is a very early stage that can open the door for construction not in the short term, but several years down the road,” Peace Now said in a statement.

But it said the potential projects for 19,786 housing units in the West Bank and 4,000 in East Jerusalem were an important indicator of where the government stands on future building, even as it engages the Palestinians in land-for-peace talks.

Peace Now said one plan called for construction in a highly sensitive area sandwiched between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government, and could impede any efforts to reach an agreement on the future of the holy city.

“The issuing of tenders for planning is unequivocal evidence that Netanyahu intends to prevent the real chances of a negotiated agreement and a two-state solution,” Peace Now said.

It said the tenders included planning for 1,200 additional housing units for the E-1 area near Jerusalem, where under U.S. pressure Israel has suspended previous projects to build more than 3,000 settler homes.

Israeli political sources said Netanyahu, after learning of the new plans for E-1, swiftly ordered they also be frozen.

The tenders were published on a government website before a visit last week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who encountered Palestinian anger over previously announced projects for the construction of 3,500 more settler homes.

There was no immediate Palestinian comment on the latest plans.

A Housing Ministry spokesman, confirming the new tenders had been issued, said only a small fraction of the blueprints that it commissions annually lead to actual construction.

“The tenders are a basis for building plans and they all still have to go through lengthy legal procedures before building starts,” said the spokesman, Ariel Rosenberg.

Palestinians fear Israel's settlements in areas it captured in the 1967 Middle East war will deny them a viable state. Most countries consider the enclaves illegal under international law. The United States describes the settlements as illegitimate.

Israel cites historical and biblical links to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where more than 500,000 Israelis now live alongside 2.5 million Palestinians.

During his visit, Kerry appealed publicly to Israel to limit settlement building “as much as possible” to help the negotiations succeed. The talks resumed in July after a three-year break and have shown little sign of progress.

Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of creating “artificial crises” over the settlement issue and has said that most of Israel's building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is in areas it intends to keep in any future peace deal.

Peace Now said the latest tenders “will make it even more difficult for the Palestinians to remain at the negotiating table.”

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid