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Photo by: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
'40 new Efrat homes prejudice the peace process'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
12/12/2011
Ban says move comes at "critical juncture" of Quartet peace efforts and urges parties to refrain from "provocative action."
 
The United Nations on Monday called on Israel to halt settlement activity after reports surfaced regarding the publication of tenders for 40 new homes in the Efrat settlement, located just outside of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion bloc.

“Such activity is contrary to international law and the road map, and prejudices final status negotiations,” UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon said in a statement his office released to the media.

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“These actions by the government of Israel come at a critical juncture when the Quartet continues efforts to facilitate the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. For this to succeed, the parties must refrain from provocative actions and help create a positive environment for negotiations,” he said.

In his statement he specifically mentioned the 40 Efrat homes and reports of a pending permit for a farming project in Efrat.

Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said that there was nothing new in the report regarding the tenders. Initial authorization for the 40 homes was granted in the spring, he said. It was part of a number of authorizations for new settlement homes granted by the government after terrorists infiltrated the Itamar settlement in March and stabbed to death five members of the Fogel family, including three children.

Last week the Israel Lands Authority published tenders for 40 homes in the Givat Hadagan neighborhood of Efrat on its web site. Revivi said that Givat Hadagan is located with the settlement’s boundaries and that it was part of its municipal plans. Sixty families already live in that neighborhood, he said.

Separately, in November the Ministry of Construction and Housing announced the publication of tenders for 277 homes in an Efrat neighborhood known as Hazayit and 277 in the Ariel settlement in Samaria. Last week the Israel Lands Authority also posted tenders for the Ariel homes on its web site.

In addition, the IDF has given initial approval for the Efrat settlement to farm a hilltop on the edge of its community. Although the hilltop is within the settlement’s municipal borders, it is in an area outside the boundary of the security barrier which cuts through a back corner of the settlement.

According to Revivi, final approvals for the farming project have not been issued.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now attacked the government for publishing the tenders.

“The developments in Efrat are a serious threat to a two state solution,” she said.

The government has said that Efrat will be part of Israel in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians and that therefore construction in such settlement blocs should not harm the peace process.
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