The recent trend of Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories by far exceeds those of the past two years, a study shows.
The Jewish settlers have started building nearly 550 new housing units since September 26, when Tel Aviv refused to extend a partial freeze on the illegal activities, AP reported on Thursday, based on its own examination.
It said the pace is four times higher than the rate at which Tel Aviv used to start the building projects in 2008 and 2009.
The construction site includes lands that under practically any peace scenario would become part of a Palestinian state, AP said.
Israeli settlements dot East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the promised capital of the future Palestinian state, and the West Bank. Tel Aviv occupied the territories in 1967 and later annexed the territories, in violation of international law.
Israel put a partial halt in settlement activities in November 2009. Tel Aviv’s refusal to prolong the freeze has broken off direct talks it renewed in early September with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The expiration date coincided with the ground breaking ceremony of 2,000 illegal houses across the West Bank. Extremist settlers marked the date with the tooting of horns and the release of thousands of balloons.
The settlements’ so-called jurisdiction and regional councils spread over 42 percent of the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that the activities constitute an obstacle in the way of the negotiations and has called on the acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas to join him in "face-to-face" talks.