Wednesday, Aug. 05
Latest News
  1. Kerry in Qatar to assure Gulf allies over Iran deal
  2. Yemen rebel chief says ready for political settlement
  3. Turkey's Erdogan says Putin may 'give up' on Assad
  4. Israel president threatened over 'Jewish terrorism' comment
  5. Iraqi Kurdish leader vows to avenge Yazidis
  6. Turkey vows 'whatever necessary' in fight against militants
  7. 'Hundreds' of Gulf Arab troops enter Yemen's liberated Aden
  8. Kerry in Qatar to assure Gulf allies over Iran deal
  9. Teen stabbed at Gay Pride march dies as pressure mounts on Israel
  10. Kerry pledges support for Egypt in Cairo talks
  11. UAE to try 41 on charges of seeking 'caliphate'
  12. Two Turkish troops killed in 'PKK suicide attack'
  13. Iraqis protest over poor services, salty tap water
  14. Exiled Yemen PM makes symbolic Aden visit to lead restoration
  15. New Taliban leader calls for unity in ranks in first audio message
  16. Iraqi Kurdistan leadership says PKK should leave
  17. Kerry lands in Egypt on first leg of Mideast tour
  18. Iraqis protest over poor services, salty tap water
  19. Dozens dead as Syria army 'pushes back rebels near regime heartland'
  20. Yemen PM returns to Aden from Saudi exile

Israel moves ahead with E1 settlement plans

Dec. 5, 2012 3:04 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 2:33 P.M.)
By: Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel moved forward on Wednesday with plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, in defiance of international protests.

A Defense Ministry official said architects and contractors appeared before a subcommittee of the military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank and registered their plans for construction in the E1 corridor near Jerusalem, a preliminary step before any building permits are issued.

Angered by the UN General Assembly's de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood on Thursday, Israel announced the next day it would build the new dwellings for settlers, on land near Jerusalem that Palestinians seek for a future state.

The decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pro-settler government to build houses in E1 for the first time raised the alarm among Palestinians and in world capitals.

Israeli housing on the corridor's barren hills could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and further dim their hopes for an independent and contiguous state.

"E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed," President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The subcommittee of the Civil Administration's Higher Planning Council convened hours before Netanyahu was due to visit Germany, where he faces a dressing down from Chancellor Angela Merkel over the settlement project.

Netanyahu, stopping in Prague to thank the Czech Republic for voting last week against upgrading Palestine's status to non-member state at the UN, reiterated that he remained committed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Peace should entail "a demilitarized Palestinian state (that) recognizes the one and only Jewish state of Israel", he said, citing two Israeli conditions Palestinians have balked at.

Netanyahu, favored to win a Jan. 22 general election with the backing of right-wing voters, has rejected calls by the United States and Europe to reverse course over settlements, which most countries consider illegal.

"Israel will not sacrifice its vital interests for the sake of obtaining the world's applause," he said in the Czech capital.

Israel's housing minister has said construction work in E1 will not begin for at least a year. Commenting on the subcommittee's session, the defense official said it was a "procedural, preliminary stage".

EU measures

In Brussels on Tuesday, European Union ambassadors responsible for security issues discussed the possibility that all EU states would write to Israel to express their displeasure over the settlement expansion plans or summon Israeli envoys for consultations, as five EU countries have already done.

No formal decisions were taken during the EU meeting and the issue will be discussed further on Friday, EU diplomats told Reuters.

Israeli analysts said Netanyahu hoped to solidify right-wing support by promoting settlement activity in the run-up to the parliamentary election, even at the risk of Israel's diplomatic isolation.

US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over settlement building, and Abbas pressed ahead with his unilateral move at the United Nations over US and Israeli objections and calls to return to the negotiating table.

"Our conflict with the Palestinians will be resolved only through direct negotiations that address the needs of both Israelis and Palestinians," Netanyahu said in Prague. "It will not be resolved through one-sided resolutions at the UN that ignore Israel's vital needs and undermine the basic foundations of peace."

Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015