The Palestinian Popular Committees issued a press release on Wednesday slamming a new Israeli plan to construct 983 homes for settlers in Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) settlement, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.The plan to add new homes for the settlers in the illegal settlement, built on privately owned Palestinian lands, is currently being discussed by the local committee of the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Committees added that the Jerusalem Municipality is preparing plan for infrastructure for the settlement in the area which is adjacent to the Annexation Wall and located south of the settlement and Beit Sahour Palestinian town.

Azmi Shiokhy, secretary-general of the Committees, said that the initial plan was prepared by the Jerusalem Municipality after being approved by the Israeli government in 1995. It includes constructing 6500 houses for settlers on 2056 Dumans of lands annexed from the Palestinians, south of Jerusalem – between Beit Sahour and Sour Bahir.

Shiokhy added that the first stage of the settlement project resulted in building 2200 houses and the second stage, which is currently being implemented, includes constructing 2653 houses. The second stage was approved by the Jerusalem Municipality in 2002. So far, Israeli built 1468 houses out of the original plan to build 2653.

After Israel and the Palestinians participated at the Annapolis Peace Summit last year, Israel issued bids to construct 307 houses for settlers in the settlement.

The bids and the current expansion plans come in direct violations to the Israeli “commitment” to the Road Map Plan, the Annapolis peace Summit, and all related peace initiatives in addition to Israeli vows to the US to halt settlement activities in the occupied territories.

Shiokhy also said that the webpage of “Har Homa” settlement, states that 2242 houses have already been sold to the settlers. The cost of each unit is 145 – 220 thousand USD.

Moreover, an Israeli organization calling itself ‘Eer Amim said on Wednesday that the Israeli Authorities intend to construct a Jewish religious college in an area located east of the settlement and the Hebron Road in the west.

Israeli bulldozers already started working in the area to prepare the college’s infrastructure.