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PA cabinet slams settler 'terrorism'

Dec. 20, 2011 2:26 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2011 5:09 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority cabinet on Tuesday slammed the Israeli government for failing to prevent settler violence against Palestinian communities.

The cabinet called on Israel to stop settler "terrorism" against Palestinians and urged the international community to prevent the "organized crimes" of settlers.

In the weekly meeting in Ramallah, officials warned that ongoing settler violence could jeopardize stability in the region, as both Islamic and Christian holy places have been repeatedly attacked by Jewish extremists.

The PA cabinet also condemned Israeli's recent decision to market tenders for over 1,000 housing units in the West Bank, saying that it is in clear violation of international law.

The spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that the announcement was "a devastating message" for the peace process.

Settler attacks in the West Bank have intensified over recent weeks.

Three mosques near Ramallah, Jerusalem and Salfit have been set on fire since Dec. 7. Vandals sprayed the Star of David and racist graffiti including "Muhammad is a pig" and "A good Arab is a dead Arab" in Hebrew on the Jerusalem mosque's walls.

In other attacks, over 200 settlers stormed the Nablus village of Asira al-Qibliya on Dec. 11 and damaged Palestinian homes and cars.

On Dec. 13, over 50 settlers infiltrated an Israeli military base near Tulkarem and set fire to tires and vandalized vehicles.

Settlers attacked a Palestinian choir bus returning from a carol concert in Nablus on Dec. 17 and on Dec. 19 dozens of settlers raided a Ramallah village and set fire to five cars.

A Hebron village mosque was spray-painted with racist slogans on Monday in the latest string of overtly racist acts of violence.

Settlement building

Israeli settlers number 500,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, living in Jewish-only communities that are illegal under international law.

On Dec. 12 the Israeli government approved construction of 40 homes and a farm in two new settler enclaves near the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Most recently, on Dec. 18, the Israeli ministry of housing and construction announced that they would market tenders for over 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In November, the Israeli housing ministry invited tenders for the construction of more than 800 new homes in Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev, two settlement neighborhoods in occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, as part of a response to a successful Palestinian bid to join UNESCO.

Despite these moves, Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in early December that the Palestinians had decided to "boycott" peace negotiations.
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