Israel to announce 5,000 new settler homes


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will announce construction plans for about 5,000 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The plans include the 1,500 housing units announced Tuesday night to be constructed in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, Haaretz reported Thursday, as well as 2,500 new units throughout the West Bank in major settlement blocs and isolated settlements.

Lots for some 860 housing units will be sold to contractors for immediate construction in Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, Betar Ilit, Karnei Shomron and Elkana, which are part of the major settlement blocs.

Plans for the construction of 1,400 new units throughout the West Bank will be submitted to the Civil Administration’s planning committee. Construction would take several years.

Another 1,100 units, which had already been submitted to the Civil Administration’s planning committee, will be advanced, though it will take at least a year before construction begins, according to Haaretz.

Plans also were announced Tuesday to build a national park in areas east of the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Isawiyah and A-Tur; and the Kedem Center, a tourism and archaeological center in the Palestinian village of Silwan opposite the entrance to the City of David.

Ophir Akunis, the Likud deputy minister for liaison with the Knesset, provided details of the settlement plans in a government meeting Wednesday that was picked up by the Israeli media.

The construction projects are meant to appease those who were against the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The freed prisoners had participated in terror attacks that killed Jews.

The plans were condemned by the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. State Department, as well as by United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

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