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Diplomacy & Politics
TOVAH LAZAROFF \
Plans published for 90 homes in Beit El settlement
Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R).
(photo credit:REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The IDF on Friday published plans for the construction of 90 homes in the Beit
El settlement in a move that was condemned by Peace Now and lauded by the
settler leadership on Monday.The homes are part of an overall plan for
300 new units in the settlement that was approved by the government as part of
its agreement with 30 families in the adjacent Ulpana outpost in exchange for
the peaceful evacuation of their homes over the summer.But the IDF’s
Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria must now approve a zoning plan for
the homes.If no objections are filed, than the plans for the 90 housing
units will automatically be authorized. The process is expected to move forward
smoothly.Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that these are the first
approvals for new settler homes since last month’s election.The planning
council approvals and all other settlement building authorizations should be put
on hold until a new government is formed, Ofran said.By moving forward
on West Bank Jewish building, “Netanyahu has shown once more that he is
determined to push forward with settlement construction,” she said.But
the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip noted
that the council authorizations were technical, as these were homes approved by
the former Netanyahu government.“We welcome all building and we hope it
will solve some of the housing problem,” the council said. "The Palestinian position is clear. There can be no negotiation while settlement
continues," Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas, said in response to the new Beit El construction.Most countries
consider Israel's settlements illegal. Israel disputes this, citing historical
and Biblical links to the land.In Washington, US State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she had not seen the announcement but repeated
the Obama administration's opposition to such settlement building."Our
position on this has not changed. We don't think it's helpful," Nuland told
reporters at her daily briefing.There are now more than 325,000 settlers
in the West Bank, with a further 200,000 living in eastJerusalem, which was
annexed by Israel after 1967 in a move not recognized internationally.It
is claimed by the Palestinians as their capital city.Reuters contributed to this report.
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