Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Israel will press on with plans for 6.000 more homes in E-Jerusalem
Givat Hamatos (vioklet dot), one of the areas that will be developed according to the plans, will close the ring around East-Jerusalem as it is located between the settlements of Gilo (blue, left of Givat Hamatos) and Har Homa (also blue at the other side). It will block the opening of the Arab parts of the city towards Bethlehem. (ARIJ)
(Reuters) - Israeli officials said they would press on with plans this week to build 6,000 homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will hit already faint hopes for a peace accord.
Stung by the de facto recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in a U.N. General Assembly vote last month, Israel announced it would expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
An Israeli interior ministry planning committee on Monday gave preliminary approval for 1,500 new homes in the Ramat Shlomo settlement.
The panel will now start discussing plans for another 4,500 homes in two other settlements, Givat Hamatos and Gilo, in back-to-back sessions that could run into next week, ministry spokesman Efrat Orbach said on Tuesday.
Israel counts the three settlements as part of its Jerusalem municipality though they are on West Bank land seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
Israel earlier announced that it will build 3.000 new appartments on the West Bank, for a large part in the area called E1 between Jerusalem and the settlement Ma'ale Adumim. The E1 plan will effectively cut the West Bank in two and virtually insulate it from Bethlehem, Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank.