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Israel moves ahead with E1 settlement plans
Published Wednesday 05/12/2012 (updated) 06/12/2012 14:33
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A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim is seen
near Jerusalem December 4, 2012. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel moved forward on Wednesday with plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international protests.

A Defense Ministry official said architects and contractors appeared before a subcommittee of the military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank and registered their plans for construction in the E1 corridor near Jerusalem, a preliminary step before any building permits are issued.

Angered by the UN General Assembly's de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood on Thursday, Israel announced the next day it would build the new dwellings for settlers, on land near Jerusalem that Palestinians seek for a future state.

The decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pro-settler government to build houses in E1 for the first time raised the alarm among Palestinians and in world capitals.

Israeli housing on the corridor's barren hills could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and further dim their hopes for an independent and contiguous state.

"E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed," President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The subcommittee of the Civil Administration's Higher Planning Council convened hours before Netanyahu was due to visit Germany, where he faces a dressing down from Chancellor Angela Merkel over the settlement project.

Netanyahu, stopping in Prague to thank the Czech Republic for voting last week against upgrading Palestine's status to non-member state at the UN, reiterated that he remained committed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Peace should entail "a demilitarized Palestinian state (that) recognizes the one and only Jewish state of Israel", he said, citing two Israeli conditions Palestinians have balked at.

Netanyahu, favored to win a Jan. 22 general election with the backing of right-wing voters, has rejected calls by the United States and Europe to reverse course over settlements, which most countries consider illegal.

"Israel will not sacrifice its vital interests for the sake of obtaining the world's applause," he said in the Czech capital.

Israel's housing minister has said construction work in E1 will not begin for at least a year. Commenting on the subcommittee's session, the defense official said it was a "procedural, preliminary stage".

EU measures

In Brussels on Tuesday, European Union ambassadors responsible for security issues discussed the possibility that all EU states would write to Israel to express their displeasure over the settlement expansion plans or summon Israeli envoys for consultations, as five EU countries have already done.

No formal decisions were taken during the EU meeting and the issue will be discussed further on Friday, EU diplomats told Reuters.

Israeli analysts said Netanyahu hoped to solidify right-wing support by promoting settlement activity in the run-up to the parliamentary election, even at the risk of Israel's diplomatic isolation.

US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over settlement building, and Abbas pressed ahead with his unilateral move at the United Nations over US and Israeli objections and calls to return to the negotiating table.

"Our conflict with the Palestinians will be resolved only through direct negotiations that address the needs of both Israelis and Palestinians," Netanyahu said in Prague. "It will not be resolved through one-sided resolutions at the UN that ignore Israel's vital needs and undermine the basic foundations of peace."
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1 ) Nour / Palestine (1state)
05/12/2012 16:01
Go Shitrael Go! Satanyahu Milliekowsky is the best thing that ever happened to Palestine. History will reveal itself.

2 ) Mel / USA
05/12/2012 16:08
Shame on the media,for not using the correct headings for Israel's actions.The FACTUAL,neutral,heading should be:Israel Moves Ahead With More Illegal Ethnic Colonies &War Crimes.It's not judgemental/subjective to call a spade-recognized under INTERNATIONAL LAWS-a spade.For decades this Goebbelspeak has programmed media to use soft,under-radar terms,to mislead!That's collusion & it has to stop!These are white-JEWISH-ONLY COLONIES,linked by white-Jewish-only roads,on stolen Arab land.That's FACT!!

3 ) @ Mel-1 / USA too
05/12/2012 19:05
You write "stolen Arab land.That's FACT", so tell the readership (since Palestine only just became a state) from which state the lands were stolen:
- Jordan, that acquired the lands by a 1948 invasion,
- Britian, that acquired the lands by a WW2 victory &UN "Mandate", or
- the Ottomans, that acquired the lands by Impiral conquest !!!

4 ) Jacob / Israel
05/12/2012 23:26
And while you rant on and on and on, refusing to negotiate, refusing compromise, we build, we grow. Stronger every day. And you?

5 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
06/12/2012 02:28
@ 1), VERY WELL-SAID !!! You're damn right about Shitrael and Buttiman Satanyahu and on his behalf I thank you !!! If Abbas says building in E-1 is a red line that can't be crossed, wait till he sees what we're going to do in E-2, E-3 and beyond: A hell of a LOT of red line crossings !!! Will miracles never cease ??? !!! @ 2), ATTA BOY, MELL !!! YOU THE MAN !!! YOU GOT IT RIGHT !!! By the way, a lot of those colonies are not white Jewish only ... They come in ALL shades, really.

6 ) @ Jacob-4 / Reality
06/12/2012 15:23
Reading our history teaches, that being a prophet does NOT pay, and
Palestinians will refuse to learn, despite decades of "ranting", that:
a- Abbas will be laid to rest below West Bank Areas A/B,
b- Jewish settlements will be built on E. Jerusalem, & Areas C/E-1, and
c- NO Palestine "red lines", EU calls, or UNGA resolutions will change it !!!

7 ) gabi / australia
08/12/2012 02:10
# 3 - "Jordan that acquired the lands by a 1948 invasion"?You are kidding aren't you? Jordan came in to protect what was left of the land allocated to the Arabs under the partition plan when the Brits left because the Jews had already taken some of that land. Jordan did not "invade" any land allocated to the Jews - it went only as far as the border of the land allocated to the Arabs. Instead of your ranting, you should spend a little more time reading history. Try Illan Pappe. Or Benny Morris.
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