Report: Israel issues over 1,000 settlement tenders

A general view of Har Homa settlement
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — The Israeli ministry of housing and construction announced Sunday that they will market tenders for over 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

“Some countries won’t be pleased with this (tenders), but they won’t be surprised,” Ariel Atias, Israel’s housing and construction minister, was quoted as saying by Israeli news site Ynet.

The housing units include 500 in Har Homa south of Jerusalem, 348 in Betar Illit, southwest of Jerusalem, and 180 in Givat Zeev, northwest of Jerusalem.

“The decision was reached last month after the Palestinians were accepted into UNESCO,” Atias said.

Last week, Israel approved the construction of 40 homes and a farm in two new settler enclaves near Bethlehem.

“Israel’s military establishment has approved the establishment of a new, permanent neighborhood and a farm near the West Bank settlement of Efrat,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

“The building in Efrat is especially sensitive in my opinion, because it is east of the road leading to Bethlehem,” Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP in response to the move.

“That means that if Israel wants to annex Efrat, it will cut off Bethlehem from the southern West Bank.”

Israel has come under renewed international criticism for its surge of settlement activities since a government decision on November 1 to speed up building in response to Palestine joining UNESCO.

More than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and the number is constantly growing.

Another 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

The international community considers all settlements in territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 as illegal, whether or not approved by its government.

( / 18.12.2011)

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