Israeli Ministry of Housing approves construction of 100 new settlement homes in the West Bank

On Friday, Ze'ev Boim, Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction approved the tenders for the construction of 100 new settlement homes in the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the pretext of "the natural growth of these settlements".He added that these tenders will include the construction of 48 new settlement homes in the illegal settlement block of Ariel in the north of the West Bank while 52 others will be built in the illegal settlement of Elkana near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Boim noted that these two settlements are among those Israeli illegal blocs that Israel will annex in any agreement with the Palestinians over final status negotiations

The Israeli "Peace Now" movement strongly criticized this move and said that "the government is destroying the chances of reaching a settlement with the Palestinians and is turning the Annapolis peace conference into an irrelevant joke,", referring to the U.S-sponsored regional peace summit that was held last November in Maryland, United States.

Saeb Ei'rikat, Palestinian senior negotiator commented on this decision and said that "we strongly condemned the continuation of settlement building. Such a decision thwarts peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

He indicated that the Palestinian Authority "contacted the United States and the representatives of the Middle East Peace Quartet upon this new violation of the Israeli commitments." The US sponsored Road map peace plan approved by the Middle East peace Quartet in 2003 stated the necessity of freezing settlement building.

Mark Regev, the Israeli spokesperson for premier Ehud Olmert justified this decision and said that " it came within the framework of the government of the construction in the settlement blocs."

He added that " it approved what we stated ; first no new settlements, second no land confiscation and thirdly no settlement expansion beyond the borders of already constructed ones."

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli premier affirmed last March that the construction works will continue in the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Yesha Council of settlements had welcomed the construction of new settlement homes yet they described it as "not enough" and they criticized the government of freezing the construction of thousands of settlement homes in the illegal settlement blocs in the West Bank."

At least 270 thousand populate illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and 200 thousand others live in around 12 settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem which Israel has occupied in 1967.

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