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Construction in Jewish settlements booming
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 11 - 2013


Mohammed Mar'i
Saudi Gazette

RAMALLAH – The anti-settlement Israeli watchdog Peace Now on Monday said that there has been a non-stop settlements construction and approval boom since the formation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's eight months ago.
Peace Now said in a new report in the since the establishment of the Netanyahu's government on March 18th, 2013, tenders have been published for 3,472 new units in Jewish settlements in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank.
The organization said that plans have been promoted for no fewer than 8,943 new settlement units.
According to Peace Now, the most recent evidence of this came with the latest round of Palestinian prisoners released by Israel, which was accompanied by the publication of tenders for 2,258 new units in settlements, and the promotion of plans for 2,487 new units in settlements.
The organization said that “these facts once again raise the very serious question about the motivations and intentions of Prime Minister Netanyahu with respect to peace, negotiations, and the two-state solution.”
The issue of settlements is one of the thorniest issues that stall the resumption of direct peace talks between Palestinian Authority and Israel which collapsed in October 2010 because Israel insisted to continue settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met more than fifteen times since peace talks were renewed at the end of July in Washington after a three-year halt in talks in an attempt to solve the final status issues; Jerusalem, refugees, boundaries, settlements and security. Meetings were held alternately in different locations in Jerusalem and Jericho, and lasted on average between three and four hours.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry has set a nine-month target window for an agreement, despite widespread skepticism among Israelis and Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official said that the Palestinians would not agree to an interim peace deal that would allow Israel to continue settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Mohamed Ishtayyeh, a Palestinian negotiator and member of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah's Central Committee, told the Voice of Palestine radio that “in the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously.”
“We believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal, meaning an agreement based upon Israeli colonial ambitions rather than upon internationally accepted principles of international law,” he said.
Ishtayyeh said that continued construction of settlements in Palestinian territories signaled that Israel showed “no seriousness” and presented “the message that Israel is using negotiations only as a tool to avoid international pressure.”
The Fatah official said that Palestinians were seeking a “comprehensive” deal that would call for such activities to cease.


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