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Israel 'clears West Bank land for settler homes'
Published Tuesday 03/12/2013 (updated) 04/12/2013 11:19
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(MaanImages/File)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Israel has bulldozed land slated for settler homes in the West Bank, a local official said Tuesday, ahead of a visit by the top US diplomat to boost peace talks.

"The occupation (Israeli) authorities informed us, through notifications to landowners, that new settler homes would be built in the village of Al-Mazraa al-Qabaliya," Abdallah Lawadeh told AFP.

The 255 homes are among some 800 slated for construction by Israel since October.

Palestinian landowners were given two months to "present objections to the decision," Lawadeh said, but "the authorities did not wait for those to be filed, already bulldozing the land and setting up temporary housing for Israelis," he said.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said the army had approved on Nov. 7 the construction of the 255 units in the Israeli settlement Nahlei Tal.

"But it's only a first step, and objections can be submitted within 60 days," Lior Amihai, a spokesman for the group, told AFP.

The units are among some 800 settlement homes approved by Israel in October, when it released 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement to relaunch US-brokered peace talks.

Israeli officials have said the settlement announcements are part of understandings reached with the Palestinians in order to relaunch the talks, but the Palestinians have adamantly denied this, condemning all settlement construction.

Palestinians and the international community have long viewed the construction of Jewish settlements as among the biggest obstacles to resolving the decades-old conflict.

The reported bulldozing came a day before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Israel on a visit to boost the negotiations, which are in deadlock over the settlement issue.

Palestinian negotiators resigned over settlement building last month, but President Mahmoud Abbas has not yet accepted their resignation.

The Palestinians have threatened to sue Israel through international courts should there be a failure in peace talks, which have been given a nine-month deadline -- until around April -- to reach an agreement.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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1 ) Claudia / Italy
03/12/2013 19:31
Just wait till EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the UN Security Council, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs The International Federation for Human Rights, Defenders of Human Rights Center, Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies & Human Rights Philip Luther, Middle East & North Africa Director at Amnesty International, all 'express concern'.

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
03/12/2013 20:35
Strange that there is nothing about this on the peace now site in either hebrew or english. nor do either of these locations (israeli and palestinian) show up on maps. Come on, Maan, just because AFP does a lousy job doesn't mean you are not allowed to edit it to make it readable and accurate.

3 ) mohamed / somalia
04/12/2013 00:09
no more palestinian state and no more 67 border. hopless.

4 ) Maisie / UK
04/12/2013 00:10
The ongoing negotiations should be called "The Piece Process" since, during the time being wasted, piece by piece of Palestine is being appropriated. This certainly helps "facts on the ground" justify not going back to 1967 borders. The poor Pals from Syria and Lebanon cannot return but anyone who is Jewish is free to come in and settle on Palestinian land. Why isn't any country calling for sanctions against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East? Ha!!!

5 ) @ the Editor / USA
04/12/2013 02:37
The Israeli (occupation) authorities do Not build on land owned by others, so they would Not have made "notifications to landowners", so Mr. Lawadeh lied to the AFP, and Maan printed the story any way !! - Please print an equally prominent retraction of the story !!

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
04/12/2013 07:19
Israel lays out the welcome mat for Kerry. Kinda tough for the homeowners of course. But this is the land of the Herrenvolk, and they're gentiles. Maybe they should shoot a child in front of Kerry. See if that gets his goat. My betting is it wouldn't. He'd grovel. He's from a land of moral cowards.

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
04/12/2013 07:21
Of course, bad as the rest of us may be, Brian Cohen and @ #5 (and whoever else of that ilk comes along) show it is possible to sink to still greater depths of moral foulness. I know you were born in the US, Brian. You make me ill.

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
04/12/2013 07:24
To mohamed #3: 'no more palestinian state and no more 67 border. hopless.' Ultimately, that's for the best. There's no reason to see the 1967 borders as desirable, and the longer this goes on, the less likely it is that Israel will keep even that.

9 ) ian / australia
06/12/2013 11:48
#2 "...nor do either of these locations (israeli and palestinian) show up on maps." Huh? Al-Mazraa al-Qabaliya is a village near Birzeit and Nahlei Tal is an illegal outpost near Talmon. You need new maps.
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