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The Defense Ministry is poised to authorize one of the largest West Bank construction projects in recent years, 1,400 apartments in the Adam settlement located just north of Jerusalem, according to Peace Now.
The scope of the project is almost equal to the 1,473 housing starts in all of Judea and Samaria's Jewish communities in 2007.
If approved it would more than double the size of Adam, which is home to 3,000 people.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's spokesman dismissed Peace Now's claim as "nonsense."
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said no such building permits were pending.
A Defense Ministry document obtained by The Jerusalem Post and dated December 10, 2008, notes that an unauthorized plan exists to build such a project in an undeveloped part of Adam, known as Adam East.
The ministry has already agreed to construct 50 new housing units in the "new neighborhood" of Adam East for the 45 families who now live in the nearby unauthorized Migron outpost.
According to the December 10 document, a discussion took place at the Defense Ministry on the relocation of Migron's residents based on an agreement with the settlers' council.
It noted the bare details of the move and then immediately added that an unauthorized plan for 1,400 apartment units existed in that same area of Adam East.
Peace Now's attorney Michael Sfard said he understood the document to mean the ministry intended to approve this project as part of the relocation of Migron.
"Even when Defense Minister Ehud Barak is supposedly engaged in an action plan for the removal of an outpost, he uses this to enlarge the settlement body under the guise of evacuating an illegal outpost," Sfard said.
Israel was bound by the road map peace plan to freeze settlement activity, he said, adding that the project was a violation of that agreement.
He also took issue with the Defense Ministry's description of Adam East as a neighborhood of Adam.
Sfard said that even though the project fell within the municipal boundaries of Adam, by placing homes in this undeveloped area, "the Defense Ministry is advancing the construction of a whole new large settlement."
Barak's spokesman was quick to point out that the document states that the plan was unauthorized and that it was a stretch to think that this document was a statement of intent. The only plan that has been authorized for Adam is the one to build 50 new homes for the Migron families.
Founded in 1984, Adam is located five minutes from Jerusalem's Pisgat Ze'ev and is outside the security barrier.
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