Israel Expands West Bank Settlement

The Israeli government approved on Monday, June 29, the expansion of a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, despite repeated American and international calls for a total freeze of settlement building.

"The Defense Ministry has approved the construction of 50 housing units in the settlement of Adam," State Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

"The understandings to advance the construction were examined by the political echelon, Yesha Council of settlements representatives and settler leaders."

The housing units number does not include public buildings and roads.

According to a Defense Ministry document, the complete plan sees the construction of 1,450 homes in the settlement of Adam, north of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

The Prosecutor’s Office said 190 housing units will be built in the first stage, in accordance with the plan approved by the Defense Ministry in May.

Yediot Aharonot recently reported that about 3,200 new housing units were under construction in the occupied West Bank at the end of 2008.

Some 280,000 Jewish settlers live in more than 120 settlements scattered across the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war.

Defiance

The decision to expand Adam settlement came shortly before Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak flies to the US in a bid to bridge gaps with President Barack Obama over settlement construction.

Barak is scheduled to meet US Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Tuesday, June 30.

A meeting between Mitchell and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu was cancelled last week over differences on settlements.

Barak reportedly plans to offer the Americans a three-month building freeze in the settlements, excluding existing projects that are nearing completion.

The possible freeze would not apply to settlements in Al-Quds, which Israel occupied and annexed in 1967.

It would also not cover some 2,000 buildings in West Bank settlement blocs that are currently at an advanced stage of construction, mainly public buildings.

The Obama administration has repeatedly asked Israel to halt all settlement activity in order to re-launch peace talks with the Palestinians.

Last week, the G8 and the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – which groups the US, EU, UN and Russia — called for a complete settlement freeze.

Under the internationally-backed roadmap, Israel must freeze all settlement activities and dismantle 22 outposts constructed after March 2001.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements on the occupied Palestinian land illegal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not hold any talks with Israel until it halts all settlement activity which endangers the viability of their future state.

(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)

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