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Presidency: Israeli settlement tender 'harms peace'

April 4, 2012 9:28 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2012 9:18 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian presidency on Wednesday condemned Israel's issuing of tenders for hundreds of new settler homes near Bethlehem.

Israel's Housing Ministry published tenders on Tuesday for 827 new houses in illegal settlement Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The new settler neighborhood will extend Har Homa to the south and east towards Beit Sahour, the report said. Director of Israeli rights group Ir Amim Judith Oppenheimer told the daily the construction would make permanent the separation between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the decision "does not encourage the resumption of negotiations," official PA news agency Wafa reported.

He called on the international community, and the Middle East Quartet in particular, to stop Israeli settlement building in the interests of peace.

The last round of direct peace negotiations collapsed in September 2010 when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building.

Israeli and PLO envoys held five meetings in Amman in January, but the preliminary talks failed to yield full scale negotiations.

Next week, a delegation of Palestinian officials will deliver a letter from President Mahmoud Abbas to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to outline the PLO's position on the peace process, a presidential adviser said Wednesday.
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