Israel to OK 3,000 West Bank Homes 10/25 06:07
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) -- Israel is expected to move forward with thousands
of new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank this week, a settlement
watchdog group said Sunday.
The plan for some 3,000 new settler units in the West Bank has already drawn
calls for restraint from the U.S., which on Friday voiced "concern" over the
Hagit Ofran from the anti-settlement group Peace Now said a committee is set
to meet Wednesday to approve 2,800 units deep in the West Bank, complicating
any efforts to create a Palestinian state. More than half of those are
receiving final approval, meaning construction could begin in the coming year.
On Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. was
"concerned" about the housing plans. He called on Israel and the Palestinians
to "refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tension and undercut efforts
to advance a negotiated two-state solution" to the conflict.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east
Jerusalem -- areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war -- for their future
state. The Palestinians view the settlements, which house some 700,000
settlers, as the main obstacle to peace. Most of the international community
considers settlements illegal.
Israel views the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the
Ofran said Israel is also set to approve 1,600 units for Palestinians in the
areas of the West Bank that it controls. But critics say the move comes at the
initiative of villagers and not the Israeli government and that the figure is a
fraction of the building permits requested by Palestinians over the years.