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Barghouthi: 100 settlement units underway in Beit Jala

July 18, 2010 12:15 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2010 1:07 P.M.)
Ramallah – Ma'an – Israel recently began construction on 100 new settlement units in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi announced Sunday.

The latest settlement construction is underway on Palestinian land in the towns of Beit Jala and Al-Walaja, as US Middle East envoy visits the region for the latest round of indirect talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Barghouthi said.

He said Israeli authorities began overturning land and surrounding it with barbed wires, which he said was an attempt to thwart Palestinian land owners from protesting the confiscation. He said the work began secretly to avoid "the exposure of the Netanyahu government's false claims of freezing settlement construction."

Israel announced it would halt settlement expansion and building in the West Bank. However, a report issued by the Islamic Christian Commission for Support of Jerusalem and the Holy Places in May alleged that Israel plans to expand its Jerusalem municipal borders into the West Bank with the Al-Walaja settlement, which will include a 12,000-unit housing complex.

Another 32 units are planned for the Palestinian village of Tuqu, east of Bethlehem, Barghouthi added, saying settlement expansion has increased since Israel declared its moratorium on building.

Since the decision, he said, all projects which under construction continued in the West Bank and Jerusalem while thousands of new settlement units have been approved by the government.

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