Israeli sources have reported that the Israeli Housing Ministry is planning to issue tenders for the construction of hundreds of units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, this coming week.Israeli daily, Haaretz, quoted a government official stating that the announcement of the bids will take place as Israeli releases 25 Palestinian political prisoners, part of the second stage of detainees’ release to boost direct talks with the Palestinians.
The new constructions will be in major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem.
Haaretz said that the official claimed that the understandings, mediated by the United States, leading to the resumption of direct peace talks with the Palestinians, “did not include any commitment from Tel Aviv to freeze settlement construction activities”.
It added that, during their Wednesday meeting in Rome, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, informed U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, of the new Israeli construction plan. Kerry also informed the Palestinians of the Israeli decision.
According to the paper, Netanyahu is trying to appease the settlers, especially right-wingers, as they will be holding massive protests against the release of Palestinian political prisoners.
Furthermore, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Dannon, sent a letter to Israeli ministers asking them to oppose the release of the detainees.
An Israeli government official said that Netanyahu intends to go ahead with the release of the detainees as planned, as the understanding reached with the Palestinians obliges Tel Aviv to release 104 detainees, held since before the first Oslo Agreement of 1993, on four stages.
The first stage, conducted on August 14, included the release of 26 veteran detainees, the second stage is planned to be conducted on October 29, while the third state is planned for December 29 and the fourth on March 28 2014.
The Israeli cabinet will be holding a session this coming Sunday to approve the names of detainees who would be released, before publishing the list to grant the public 48 hours to file petitions to the High Court. The actual release is scheduled to be conducted Tuesday.
In previous cases of prisoners release, the Israeli High Court rejected all appeals, and said that it does not interfere with decisions made Israel’s political leaders.
Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem as illegal and violate International Law.
Israel repeatedly doubled and tripled its settlement activities to appease right wing extremists who protest the release of political prisoners, and protest the demolition and removal of illegal settlement outposts built on private Palestinian property.