Israeli TV, Channel 10, has reported that, despite an Israeli decision to release 104 Palestinian detainees and resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli Housing Ministry approved a new settlement ‚Äúneighborhood‚ÄĚ in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem.Direct peace talks, mediated by the United States, are supposed to start on Monday evening.
Channel 10 said that Israeli Housing Minister, Uri Ariel, approved the plan, and added that various Israeli political analysts believe this decision is a sharp blow to efforts to resume and maintain direct talks.
The plan was first presented by the Israeli ‚ÄúConstruction and Planning Committee‚ÄĚ in 2004, but the application was voided because the planned constructions have high walls that violate the construction code of the Jerusalem City Council.
Nevertheless, the plan was resubmitted and was approved by the City Council, and the constructions are planned to be built on five Dunams of lands in the occupied city.
Although the P.A expressed rejection to the plan, it seems to be determined to hold the first session of direct talks with Israel on Monday.
Direct talks have been obstructed since September of 2009 when a temporary settlement freeze expired and Israel started massive constructions.
Israel‚Äôs illegal settlement activities violate International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which it is a signatory. Settlements were one of the main reasons that obstructed direct talks.
Settlements are spread across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem; they along with the Annexation Wall are turning the Palestinians communities into isolated cantons.
The occupied West Bank is 5655 square/kilometers long, and 40-65 kilometers in width, while the Gaza Strip is 365 square/kilometers, 45 kilometers longs and 5-12 kilometers in width. The total size of the Palestinian territory is 6020 square/kilometers.
Israel was established in 1948 on about %78 of historic Palestine, then after the war of 1967, Israel imposed its military occupation on the rest of Palestine and started building and expanding Jewish settlements considering them part of the state.
Areas that the P.A ‚Äúcontrol‚ÄĚ are around 210 square/kilometers, divided and largely surrounded in the West Bank by settlements and the Wall.