Peace Now: Netanyahu's government advanced plans for 5,170 settler homes

NGO states it is happy PM returned to talks, but calls not to approve any new construction to "truly give peace a chance."

By
July 22, 2013 11:53
2 minute read.
Modi'in Illit construction site [file].

Modiin Illit construction 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)

The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has advanced plans for 5,170 new settler homes since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s third term in office began in March, according to Peace Now.

The three-month time span in Peace Now’s report also covers the period during which US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to the Middle East six times as part of his massive effort to rekindle direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, which largely have been frozen since 2008.

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“The new government speaks about two states; meanwhile on the ground they are doing exactly the opposite,” said Peace Now.

It published its report just a few days after Kerry announced that talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be resumed.

Settlers fear Netanyahu will agree to some form of a settlement freeze either as a prelude to talks or to help foster a conducive climate for negotiations.

The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip plans to hold a joint meeting Tuesday with the Land of Israel Knesset lobby group to discuss their opposition to what they believe are three components of renewed talks: a settlement freeze, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the pre- 1967 lines as a basis for negotiations.

In particular, settlers note that while the Higher Planning Council might be advancing settlement projects in Judea and Samaria, few have been approved.

Settlers have complained that a de facto freeze on the publication of tenders in West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem has been in place since February.

Last week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon pulled plans for 320 new homes in isolated settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Binyamin region from the Higher Planning Council’s agenda, thus sparking rumors of a freeze outside the settlement blocs.

The Left won’t succeed in harming the settlement enterprise, the council said in response to the report, as it noted that its population had almost tripped in the last 20 years.

Peace Now, however, said it took the advancement of so many plans seriously.

Since March, it noted, Ya’alon has initially approved 1,507 new settler homes, all of which were outside of the security barrier’s planned route.

It is possible, said the organization, that the number of approvals he signed are even higher.

“We call on the government not to approve any new plans and any construction in settlements, [and to] truly give peace a chance,” Peace Now said.


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