In addition to raising the risk of new tension with
the United States an Israeli government decision to issue tenders
seeking bids for construction of 50 new houses in the West Bank
settlement of Elkana, it will raise risk of collapsing the calm
declared by the Palestinian factions.

Infrastructure work has been completed for the new houses, said Yaakov
Harel, spokesman for the Israel Lands Authority.  He claimed, the
new houses will be built near the green line.

The construction of the new homes will begun within two or three
months, at the time Israel might be withdrawing from the Gaza Strip.

Such construction and the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement,
east of Jerusalem are seen as contradictory to the Road Map
commitments, which calls for a settlements freeze.

President George W. Bush last week criticized such construction during a visit by Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Sharon made it clear that Israel intends to hold on to large settlement
blocs in the West Bank under any final peace deal with the
Palestinians, which was not objected by the U.S. administration.