(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday slammed Israel’s plans
to issue tenders to build 1,028 Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and two West Bank
The decision “contradicts efforts to revive the peace
process,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said according to the Palestinian
news agency WAFA.
US, UN, EU condemn ‘accelerated’ W. Bank Jewish building
PA, opposition decry West Bank building decision
According to information published by the Construction
and Housing Ministry on Sunday, 500 of the units will be located in Har Homa, a
Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
The tender is one of the last
major bureaucratic steps for a 930-unit project in Har Homa. The ministry
published the tender for the remaining 430 units a month ago.
Jerusalem Municipality and the Interior Ministry finished the approval process
for the project in August. It will still be a number of years, however, before
the infrastructure – including roads, sewage pipes and electricity – will be
Left-wing activists see Har Homa as one of the most
controversial Jewish neighborhoods in the capital, because it was started after
the Oslo Accords were signed and because it creates a barrier of Jewish homes
between east Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods and Bethlehem.
Binyamin] Netanyahu is not only attempting not to make peace, he’s also going
forward with plans that will make peace impossible in the future and make it
impossible to have two states for two peoples,” said Hagit Ofran, who heads
Peace Now’s Settlement Watch team.
The quest for “continuous territory”
is an explosive issue, and one that presents a severe stumbling block to
negotiations about a future Palestinian state, Ofran said.
Elisha Peleg (Likud), who sits on the Local Planning and Construction Committee,
welcomed the planned apartments, which would solve part of the housing shortage
for young couples, recently released soldiers and working families, he
“There are no apartments here and it’s a good thing they’re
building everywhere in Jerusalem, there’s no difference if it is over an
historical line or not,” he said.
The Construction Ministry on Sunday
also announced tenders for 348 homes slated for the Betar Illit settlement
located south of Jerusalem, in Gush Etzion, 400 meters over the pre-1967 line.
The Defense Ministry first authorized the project in April, in the aftermath of
the terrorist attack in the Itamar settlement, in which two Palestinians stabbed
to death five members of the Fogel family, including an infant, in their
Tenders will also be issued for 180 homes in the Givat Ze’ev
settlement, located north of Jerusalem, 4.9 km. over the pre-1967 Green
The new homes were part of an announcement regarding plans for
6,000 across the country.
Homes for Gaza evacuees were included in the tender announcement, with 300 to be published for Nitzanim,
located between Ashkelon and Ashdod, and 229 in Ashkelon’s “Golf”
In November, the government said it planned to accelerate
building in Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhoods to protest Palestinian
unilateral moves at the United Nations, and the UNESCO decision to grant the PA
Netanyahu’s government has always insisted it has a right to
build in Jerusalem.
Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel
until it halts Jewish building in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlement
Israel has refused to heed this request and has called on the
PA to resume talks without pre-conditions. The PA broke off talks with Israel
three years ago, to protest its attack on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead. It
refused to resume them when Netanyahu took office in March 2009.
negotiations between the two sides were rekindled briefly in September 2010, but
then were frozen when Israel refused to renew its 10-month moratorium on new
According to Abu Rudeineh, the move to issue the
new tenders coincides with what he described as an increase of so-called
“price-tag” violence by settlers and right-wing activists against Palestinians
as well as vandalism against their property and mosques in the West Bank. He
called on the international community to stop Israeli settlement building, WAFA
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.