|Photo by: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny|
'40 new Efrat homes prejudice the peace process'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
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
“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.
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
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
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
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