The Israeli Ministry of Housing issued on Monday tenders to construct
690 settlement homes in the Occupied West Bank. The new units will be
constructed in large settlement blocs in the West Bank and is coherent
with Olmert's “Convergence Plan”.

The bids are the biggest since Olmert officially took office. Since the beginning of the year, the Israeli government issued tenders to construct at least 788 units.

The new settlement houses will be built in large settlements; 342 houses will be built in Bitar Ilit settlement near Ramallah, while 348 houses in Ma'aleh Adumim near Jerusalem.

Israeli sources reported that the new houses in the large settlement blocs will be constructed in areas Israel intends to annex from the Palestinians and will be part of the final agreement.

The boundaries of Bitar Ilit settlement were expanded last year in order to bring the orthodox settlement closer to Jerusalem.

Also, Israel is planning to expand Maali Adumim settlement by implementing the E1 project which is currently on hold. The project will expand the settlement located to the east of Jerusalem by blocking the Palestinian areas there and barring geographical contiguity of the West Bank.

The Israeli Peace Now Movement slammed Israel for the expansion and annexation plan and said that Olmert's government is functioning as a “right-wing government”.

Peace Now stated that instead of removing the illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and freezing settlement construction, the government is building hundreds of units and plans to authorize dozens of illegal outposts.

The movement also said that the actions of this government contradict with the “Israeli commitments in the Road Map Plans”.

Member of Knesset, Dov Chenin, from the Hadash Party said that the Olmert-Peretz government is cutting back health insurance and education in order to invest in settlements.

Meanwhile, the Yesha Council of Settlement, said that the plan is “too little too late”.

One of the dangerous decisions made by the Israeli Ministry of Justice is not to evacuate any illegal settlement outpost, although all are built on Palestinian annexed lands, including the so -called “legal settlements”.

The decision allows Israel to authorize the illegal outposts and gives them government funding disregarding the Sasson report on illegal outposts.