Israel to build 1,213 new settlement homes
JERUSALEM - Israel on Tuesday published tenders for 1,213 new homes in settlement neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem, and re-offered tenders for another 72 homes in a West Bank settlement, an Israeli NGO said.
Peace Now, citing tenders published by the Israeli housing ministry, said tenders for 607 units in Pisgat Zeev and 606 units in Ramot, both in east Jerusalem, were offered, along with 72 re-offered in the settlement of Ariel.
Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, slammed the new tenders, pointing out they come after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas reiterated his commitment to peace negotiations in an interview with Israeli television.
"Abbas declared again his strong commitment to the two state solution, and (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu replied with thousands of new units in settlements," the group said.
"It seems that Netanyahu is afraid of the new administration that is being elected today in the US, and he has chosen the day of election to publish the tenders so that there will be the least public attention to his action."
Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The Palestinians say they will not hold talks while Israel builds on land they want for their future state, while Israel says it wants negotiations without preconditions.
The international community considers Israeli settlement construction to be a violation of international law, but the number of settlers in the West Bank has grown to around 340,000, with another 200,000 living in east Jerusalem.