Tue, Nov 26, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Israel okays 829 new settler homes in West Bank: NGO

PROVOCATION:The move threatens to derail the peace process, and comes only weeks after Israel announced, then canceled, plans for 20,000 more settler homes

AFP, JERUSALEM

Israeli authorities have given the go-ahead for the construction of 829 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said yesterday.

“The construction of 829 homes has been approved by a committee of the Israeli military in charge of the West Bank,” Peace Now official Lior Amihai said.

“This is yet another move that threatens to derail the peace process,” Amihai told reporters.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has warned that ongoing settlement building by Israel in the Palestinian territories threatens the future of Middle East peace talks, which stand at an impasse little more than three months after they began.

The new homes would be built north of Jerusalem in the settlements of Givat Zeev, Nofei Prat, Shilo, Givat Salit and Nokdim, Amihai said.

The latest move comes two weeks after Israel announced its largest plan for settler homes ever, saying about 20,000 would be built in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled the order after pressure from the US, which brought the two sides to the table in July and as Netanyahu sought to dissuade Washington from striking a nuclear deal with Iran.

That announcement had prompted the entire Palestinian negotiating team to resign in protest — resignations that Abbas has yet to accept.

Abbas told reporters last week that his side is committed to the full period of talks agreed with Washington that will end about April.

However, if the talks end with no deal, the Palestinians have said they will pursue legal action against Israel’s illegal building through international courts.

Commentators say the Palestinians will not back out of talks before their end date, as this would signal implicit responsibility for their failure.

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