‘Israel approves 13,000 settlement units’ 23Dec10 December 24, 2010

Press TV -  23 December 2010
A new report reveals that Israel has approved 13,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank since Tel Aviv’s partial freeze on the projects expired late September.

Rights group Peace Now said that a total of 13,000 units are in the pipeline that did not require additional permits, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The report added that the boom of new buildings is mostly in remote communities that are least likely to be part of Israel after any two-state solution.

The renewed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were stalled after Tel Aviv refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on the settlement activities.

According to the report, if the direct talks between Israel and the PA ever get back on track, there will be thousands more Israeli settlers who will have to relocate into the occupied Palestinian territories.

Acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not return to the negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as long as Tel Aviv continues the illegal construction.

The international community has repeatedly urged Israel to stop the projects to help resolve the decades-long Middle East conflict.

The New York Times also said that construction of settler units in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), where the Palestinians deem as their future capital, has been rapidly growing after a break of half a year, with hundreds of units approved and thousands more planned.

Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement advocate who has spent the past nine years chronicling their growth, said he doubted whether there had been such a burst in settlement construction in at least a decade.

“We can say firmly that this is the most active period in many years,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said, adding that there were 2,000 units being built now.

While Israeli official data on the building will not be published until the New Year, settler leaders did not contradict the assessments.

Israel is defying the international calls with the construction of the settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed them in a move not recognized by the international community.

The settlements are considered illegal under the international law due to their construction on the occupied land.

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