Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz gave the green light for the construction of hundreds of new settler homes in West Bank settlements, directly violating Israel’s obligations under the road Map plan, which Israel “vowed” to respect.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Mofaz has approved the plan last week, shortly before deciding to quit the Likud party and join Kadima party, formed by Sharon.
The Israeli decision to expand and construct new homes in the settlements, contradicts with the Israeli obligations to halt all settlement activities in the West Bank, including Jerusalem area, yet since the Road Map was approved in June 2003, Israel continued the constructions.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Mofaz plans to construct 200 housing units in Ma’aleh Adumim settlement Bloc, near Jerusalem, in addition to constructing dozens of houses in the settlements of Bracha and Nokdim.
Also, he plans to place 40 trailer homes in Ariel settlement, in addition to advancing the constructions in the settlements of Givat Ze’ev and Beitar Illit, which are two large settlements in Jerusalem area.
Haaretz said that the construction of hundreds of flats for settlers in the Upper Modi’in Ultra-Orthodox settlement is illegal in the majority of the cases, while the Civil Administration Office is ignoring these violations.
Some of the flats are even being constructed outside of the jurisdiction of the settlement’s local council.
Also, an official at the Israeli Ministry of Justice confirmed, on Tuesday, that while the Israeli State Prosecutor’s Office was handling petitions against the Separation Wall in the area, it learned that illegal construction have been carried out in Upper Modi’in settlement.
An official of the Civil Administration Department, which belongs to the Israeli Army, claimed that the department intends to “legal options for halting these constructions”.
The construction of the Separation Wall in Bil’in village, near Ramallah, was routed in a way which enables the expansion of Upper Modi’in settlement. The Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in said that the Wall is also separating the village from its orchards, and cutting the residents’ sources of livelihood.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, told the IMEMC on Wednesday, that those plans of settlement expansion are a “real threat to peace and to the village itself”.
“We have repeatedly warned of such plans of expansions and annexations, Israel plans to annex the largest areas of orchards which belong to the residents,” he said, “the Wall was used as a security claim, but on the ground Israel is annexing the land and expanding settlements”
Also, Abu Rahma added that settlements are considered a threat which is even bigger that the Wall itself, since they grabbing the Palestinian farmlands, the only source of livelihood of the villagers.
“We will struggle in order to foil these plans”, he stated, “Settlements and the Separation Wall are real catastrophes to the village”.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials said in response to one of the petitions, submitted by attorney Michael Sfard, that in regards to “the developers plan”, known as 210/8, some 780 settler homes have been constructed, of which some 520 have been sold.
Also, Meretz party member of Knesset, Roman Bronfman, visited the area last week, and reported on the illegal constructions to the Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn. He also sent letters to the ministries of Justice and Defense.
He said in his letters that the Separation wall in the area was routed in a way which enables settlement expansion, and not according to security considerations.
Gidi Baht, project manager of the constructions, claimed that a large number of buildings have received official authorization from the government, and presented official documents regarding this issue.
Baht added that “the claims that the project was not approved originate from a financial dispute with the local council”.
He claims that the constructions were built on land “bought from the Palestinians by the Green Park Canadian Company, and Israel declared it “a State Land”.
According to Baht, the claim that part of the project is not legally approved stems from a financial dispute with the local council. He said that the project was being built on private land bought by the Canadian "Green Park" company from Palestinians in the area, and that the state declared it "state land."