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Report: Israel approves 198 new settlement homes
Published Wednesday 16/01/2013 (updated) 17/01/2013 17:03
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Jewish settlers carry wooden planks as they build a structure at an
unauthorized outpost near the settlement of Kiryat Arba outside the
West Bank city of Hebron in 2012. (Reuters/Baz Ratner, File)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's housing ministry released government tenders for the construction of 198 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Noting the timing before national elections, Israel's Ynet news site reported that the announcement invited developers to bid on two projects in Efrat and Kiryat Arba.

Both settlements are in the Hebron area of the occupied West Bank and considered illegal under international law.

The announcement came two weeks ahead of an Israeli election the incumbent prime minister's joint party list is expected to win. Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to hold on to settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and expanded them during his term.

A centrist challenger, former Foreign Minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, has made Israel's international isolation under Netanyahu the focus of her campaign.

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said meanwhile that approval for construction in 2012 far exceeded by a "record level" the counts for the previous two years.

Israeli authorities issued 3,148 such tenders in 2012 - the highest single-year figure in a decade - compared with 1,321 in 2011 and 663 in 2011, Peace Now said.

Netanyahu's settlement policies, Peace Now said, "disclose a clear intention to use settlements to systematically undermine and render impossible a realistic, viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

Almost 40 percent of the new building sites were in what Peace Now called "isolated settlements", and not the more built-up blocs which the government says Israel will keep in any deal with the Palestinians.

Also Wednesday, Netanyahu's office declined comment on an un-sourced column by US writer Jeffrey Goldberg, which described Obama as frustrated at West Bank settlement building.

"Obama said privately and repeatedly, 'Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are'," Goldberg wrote in the column published Tuesday by Bloomberg.

The president "seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise", added Goldberg.

Some Israeli commentators saw the column as payback for Netanyahu's perceived back-room lobbying on behalf of Republican Mitt Romney in his failed run against Obama in November's US election. Netanyahu has denied any such meddling.

Reuters contributed to this report.
1 ) mohamed / somalia
16/01/2013 14:55
Why are they sitting in ramallah the plo ?while there is no territorial left to the palestinian.

2 ) AKeenReader / UK
16/01/2013 15:53
And yet the lair Israeli PM consitnues to fool the world that they want peace with the Palestinians. Is this the sign of someone wanting peace?

3 ) WAS / UK
16/01/2013 17:12
How's the "peace process" going Abbas? Any success of late?

4 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
16/01/2013 17:13
Actually, announcements of new housing/other construction tenders is not news anymore. It's like the incessant announcements of planned or actual meetings between the PA and Hamas for Palestinian "unity" ... with 1 big exception: The former goes on and on with concrete results; the latter goes on and on without any damn result. Separately, if U.S. President Obama says our PM is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise, Obama is damn right. We DO (cont.)

5 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
16/01/2013 17:25
know what our best interests are, period. To be fair, the attitude of the American President (along with the EU to the Quartet to the whole U.N. to damn near everyone else) is VERY understandable and justified in the enormous frustration they feel because of our belligerence and refusal to "logically" make peace. People, again, WE KNOW THIS and we're NOT changing. For the Goldberg report, go here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-14/what-obama-thinks-israelis-don-t-understand-.html

6 ) N.H / USA
16/01/2013 18:22
Obama speaks the truth, even though he says liar while ago. Satanyaho behaves like a bad mannered Child. While he sits in this position he probably will not stop encouraging and supporting his PARASITE and TERRORISTS propagating in Palestine. I hope, (He must go) he is sent into the desert or returned to his homeland Poland after he loses the election in coming days. Maybe then there be peace in ME, Gaza and whole Palestine for the Palestinians.

7 ) @ Mo-1 / Real Answers
16/01/2013 19:14
I's simple. The PLO is "sitting in ramallah", because
- standing (& even screaming) changes nothing, &
- opening an office in Jerusalem is impossible !!

The PLO and Hamas have decided that having almost nothing
is better than negotiating and compromising with the Israelis, so
"no territorial will be left to the Palestinians" except Areas A/B & Gaza.

8 ) traducteur / Canada
16/01/2013 20:13
We're talking about housing for Jews only, no goyim need apply. Can't imagine why the MSM are so squeamish about making this explicit.

9 ) gabi / australia
17/01/2013 08:18
# 3 - that sounds a bit like gloating - make you feel good, does it? #7 -"Negotiate and compromise"? What with? "Negotiating in Israeli terms means "You give us everything we want and we'll give SFA in return." "Compromise" in Israeli terms means "We expect you to compromise - we're not going to, so you just bugger off." Then you can tell the world "See, those terrorists won't negotiate, nor compromise." BUT, you see, no-one believes that BS any more. Not even the US. So time to give it a rest

10 ) Jihad / Austria
25/01/2013 18:48
Thank god there is one god who will let them pay the bill for their illegal actions
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