The Palestinian Popular (Folk) Committees issued a statement on Thursday strongly denouncing an Israeli plan to construct nearly 2000 homes for Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank in 2008. The Committees stated that Israel intends to construct the settler homes in large West bank settlement blocs which Israel insists to retain under any peace deal with the Palestinians although these blocks are built on Palestinian lands illegally annexed by Israel.
Some of these settlement blocs are Maali Adumim Settlement, Ariel Settlement and Kfar Atzion settlement.
The Committees added that the Israeli Housing Ministry approved the plan which means that additional 1908 homes will be constructed in West Bank settlements. This is the largest number of homes added to Israeli settlements since the 1990’s.
In the 1990’s, Israel constructed nearly 5000 homes for settlers in West Bank settlements each year.
Azmi Shiokhy, secretary-general of the Committees, stated that the Israeli Housing Ministry released a plan which included its action plan for 2008. The plan includes sections for new settlements.
Shiokhy stated that the new plan includes constructing 158 houses in Efrat settlement, south of Bethlehem, 682 houses in Beitar Elit settlement west of Bethlehem, 160 houses in Givat Ze’ev settlement south-west of Ramallah, 302 houses in Maali Adumim settlement bloc, east of Jerusalem, 48 houses in Keryat Arba’ settlement in Hebron, and 48 houses in Ariel settlement near Salfit.
Shiokhy added that bulldozers and construction equipment were already sent to some of the settlements, and that the implementation of the plan is only awaiting a signature from the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak.
The Committee voiced an appealed to human rights groups and the International Red Cross to intervene and stop the ongoing Israeli violations against the residents and their lands. He called for halting the construction and expansion of settlements and for stopping the construction of the Annexation Wall.