nsucurrent.com April 21, 2018

Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3000 settlement homes

10 June 2017, 05:04 | Colleen Roy

Marwan Kanafani a former adviser to Yasser Arafat

Marwan Kanafani a former adviser to Yasser Arafat

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group that monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, made the announcement on Thursday, saying that the Tel Aviv regime has served up plans for building a total of 3,178 units this week.

President Donald Trump has stated that he would like to broker the "ultimate deal" approved by the Arab world to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier pledged to build a new settlement for around 40 families of a wildcat Jewish outpost in the West Bank.

The powerful settler movement wields heavy influence in Netanyahu's right-wing governing coalition.

In a separate process, 688 homes were advanced by the committee late on Wednesday (June 7) and will now go out for a 60-day public comment period during which objections can be filed.

Successive Israeli governments have invested billions of dollars over the past 50 years on settlements in the occupied West Bank, making any withdrawal from the Palestinian territory a costly proposition.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned the plan for the new housing units.

Israeli NGO Peace Now said the new settlement plans prove that "a two state solution is not on (Netanyahu's) agenda".

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, including in annexed east Jerusalem.

Despite this, hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of goods produced in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land are exported internationally each year, Amnesty said. Tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and properties have been demolished by Israel, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forcibly displaced.

However, Trump has given no details about how he plans to restart talks, and there is deep scepticism over whether such an effort would have any chance of success.

Mr Netanyahu has said he still supports a two-state solution, but peace advocates say his actions show otherwise. Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month West Bank freeze in 2009 but it largely failed to get talks off the ground, and building later resumed.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's spokesman called Mr Netanyahu's comment a "challenge" to Mr Trump and the worldwide community.

She said, "Israel's creeping annexation of Palestine is escalating because of the global community's inability to translate its verbal statements and condemnations into serious and concrete actions to bring Israel to account".

Hugh Lovatt, Israel coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said the new settlements would not totally derail Trump's push.

The Palestinians are reportedly willing to come to the negotiating table without preconditions.

Meanwhile, across the West Bank, settlement infrastructure - including "settler-only" roads - have divided Palestinian towns and villages, and have severely limited the ability of Palestinians to move around freely.

She said: "There were people who kind of felt nothing much is going to change but others who were still full of hope, full of creativity and really wanting to challenge the status quo".

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