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Israel plans 261 settler homes deep in West Bank
Published Wednesday 22/01/2014 (updated) 24/01/2014 22:36
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A Palestinian man stands amid tear gas smoke during clashes between
Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the village of Beit Furik, near the
West Bank city of Nablus, on Jan. 22, 2014 (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Wednesday moved forward with plans for 261 new homes in two settlements located deep in the occupied West Bank, a watchdog said, drawing strong European condemnation.

It was the fifth such move in just over two weeks and raised to 2,791 the number of new settler homes announced since the start of the year, threatening to derail faltering US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel's rapid settlement expansion has angered Palestinian negotiators and drawn condemnation from the international community, threatening peace talks that US Secretary of State John Kerry kick-started in July.

EU envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said continued settlement building would isolate Israel, which he warned would be held accountable for a failure of peace talks.

"If Israel were to go down the road of continued settlement expansion and were there not to be any result from the current talks, I'm afraid that what will transpire is a situation in which Israel will find itself increasingly isolated," Faaborg-Andersen told journalists in Jerusalem.

"If the talks are wrecked as a result of Israeli settlement announcements, then the blame will be put squarely on Israel's doorstep," he said.

"You are eating away at the cake that you are discussing how to slice up."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week accused the EU of a "hypocritical" attitude toward the Middle East peace process, saying it should be more concerned by Palestinian militancy than Israeli housing construction.

The new plans include 256 housing units in the Nofei Prat settlement, between Jerusalem and Jericho, and another five in the sprawling Ariel settlement in the north, the group said.

"The addition of 256 housing units to the small, isolated settlement of Nofei Prat dramatically changes the settlement, expanding its size and population significantly. In fact, these planned units will nearly triple the size of Nofei Prat," Peace Now said in a statement.

Construction would be allowed to start "without further political approval or public awareness," it added.

"Every day that Kerry isn't in the region, the government announces construction of new settlements," Peace Now spokesman Lior Amihai told AFP.

Kerry has visited the region 10 times since March to coax the two sides towards a final peace agreement, but the talks continue to falter ahead of an agreed April deadline.

Israel moved ahead on Tuesday with plans for 381 homes for West Bank settlers, prompting Palestinian charges it was more interested in building settlements than reaching a peace agreement.

It also pushed ahead with plans for a second visitors' center at an archaeological site in Silwan, a densely-populated neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem, Peace Now said.

And on Jan. 6, Israel approved plans for 272 new homes in various West Bank settlements. Four days later, it unveiled plans for more than 1,877 new units, some in east Jerusalem.

Israel and the Palestinians embarked on nine months of direct negotiations in late July at the urging of Kerry.

But over the past six months, Israel has not slowed its construction on land the Palestinians want for a future state.
1 ) Carson / Canada
22/01/2014 23:35
Excellent news ! Keep building Israel !!

2 ) what is with this stupid 1?? / 261
22/01/2014 23:58
351????? why not round numbers?

3 ) spb / usa
23/01/2014 01:18
i only believe cats, not dogs

4 ) Outlier / USA
23/01/2014 01:22
Does the dream of a Palestinian state live by Palestinians being pragmatic and negotiating a distasteful but doable peace settlement, or does it die by a thousand tiny settlement cuts? Now more than ever, time is not the Palestinians' friend.

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/01/2014 01:25
Good stuff. First, in pursuing this line, Israel is guaranteeing that either (a) she will have to openly abandon any pretenses to being either egalitarian or a democracy, or (b) cease to be a Zionist state in any meaningful way. Simultaneously, she further alienates all support outside of the United States. Short of all Zionists marching themselves off a cliff, one really couldn't ask for more suicidal conduct.

6 ) OUtsider / EU
23/01/2014 12:12
I just looked at a map. it's difficult to see how this new town squares with the idea of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. The settlement was actually set up as a squatter camp in 1992. Even the road that leads to it was built without a valid Israeli permit!

7 ) Mel / USA
23/01/2014 16:43
What Zionist-led Israel "plans",attempts,does is only par for its suicidal Absolutist,supremacist,fascist,expansionist course! i.e.to invade multi-cultural,pluralistic Palestine,under patronage of USG ideologues,& replace all Palestine with a Jewish ethno-theocracy shielded from WAR-CRIMES prosecution,by a USG 'EqualJusticeUnderLaw','civil rights' racist,autocracy! The BIG Q is,what's the WORLD going to do,to STOP Zionism?Or was "Never Again" just political hasbara too? BDS! Isolate Zionism!

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
23/01/2014 22:12
To Carson #1: 'Excellent news ! Keep building Israel !!' Keep pitching, Carson. I'm right behind you.

9 ) Johnny benson / USA
24/01/2014 01:36
Way to go......just keep building...maybe over time the Arabs will get it...and move to jordan

10 ) ian / australia
24/01/2014 12:58
So, Israel has pissed off Kerry, the EU and now envoy Lars Faaborg-Andersen. The Israeli MO seems to be a high-wire act of chutzpah with actions so stunningly audacious the world is mesmerised by the gall and kind of paralysed. But it can't end well. TOTAL isolation, the withdrawal of Western support and the scrutiny of international law is not something the Jewish State can survive. It will become, NOT the historic home of the Jewish People with the 3,500-year-old connection

11 ) ian / australia
24/01/2014 12:59
(contd.) to the blabbity blah blah blah...but an eccentric rogue entity which refuses to end a military occupation of a neighbouring UN-recognised state.

12 ) Maureen / Australia
24/01/2014 21:21
#9 Johnny Benson "...maybe over time the Arabs will get it..." Anything is possible! The Arabs may just get evey last bit of their land back as well as any Zionist infrastructure built on Palestinian land! Have a nice day, Johnny'

13 ) uSIDEdown / USA
25/01/2014 01:47
#12 Maureen I'm with you all the way on that and like all people who feel nothing will ever touch them let them remember their a few who support them but there are Billions who don't
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