Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli army bulldozers uprooted farmlands close to Tiqouaâ settlement, built on lands initially taken away from residents of the Tiqouaâ Palestinian village, south east of Bethlehem.The bulldozers were uprooting the lands in order to build new homes for Jewish settlers in the area.
In related news. dozens of settlers also placed caravans in Palestinian-owned lands, in Al Masâha area, east of Bethlehem.
Hundreds of settlers in the West Bank âcelebratedâ the end of the temporary settlements freeze on September 30, while the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu declared that 2000 homes for Jewish settlers will be built soon in the West Bank.
The United States urged Israel to extend the freeze on settlement activities, but the government of Netanyahu refused, and announced plans for new constructions.
U.S Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell, left the region on Friday after failing to achieve a breakthrough in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
He said that the United States will resume its efforts, and added that after failing to resume direct negotiations, Washington will mediate indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank said that negotiations cannot be held under ongoing settlement construction and expansion.
Israeli Army Bulldozers Pave the Way For Settlement Construction Near Bethlehem
Sandy Khair, IMEMC & Agencies, Fri, 01 Oct 2010 14:00:21
Israeli bulldozers began, Friday morning, bulldozing lands adjacent to the settlement of Tiqouaâ’, south east of the city of Bethlehem.
Hassan Bergia, a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, told the Palestine News and Information Center, WAFA, that the work began in an attempt to expand the settlement, and to onstruct additional housing units.
He added that settlers had erected six ”caravans” in al-M’asha region, south of bethlehem.
This work follows the end of the so-called ‘freeze’ on settlement construction in the West Bank. Under international law, the construction of housing with the intention of transferring population of an occupying nation, and the civilian occupation thereafter, is illegal.
The legitimacy of the settlement freeze has come under question, with Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, documenting 492 separate incidents where the moratorium was broken.
Nations, such as the U.S. and Japan, are calling for a continuance of settlement freeze, as Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, stated upon entering peace talks this September, that if the freeze did not continue, the Palestinian delegation would cancel further talks.