Settlement watchdog says figures exclude East Jerusalem, which in 2011 witnessed the highest number of construction plans in a decade.
By DPA 10 January 2011
Israel started construction work on 1,850 new housing units in the West Bank in 2011, a 19 percent rise from a year earlier, an Israeli settlement watchdog said Tuesday.
Peace Now attributed the rise to a partial, 10-month moratorium on new constructions in the West Bank that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed in 2010 to spur peace talks with the Palestinians.
The West Bank Settlement of Ariel Photo by AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended direct peace talks with Israel in October 2010, after Netanyahu refused to extend the moratorium. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met this month in Jordan for the first time in over a year, but there was no progress.
Peace Now said the Israeli Housing Ministry last year issued tenders for an additional 1,577 West Bank apartments, whose construction had not yet started.
The figures exclude East Jerusalem, which in 2011 witnessed the highest number of construction plans in a decade, Peace Now said.
Some 6,350 apartments planned in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem passed various stages of approval, it said.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem, including the city's east which the Palestinians want as a capital of a future state, as its "eternal" and united capital, a move not recognized internationally.
The Israeli government last year also began procedures to legalize 11 unauthorized settler outposts, containing a total of 680 structures set up near authorized settlements, Peace Now said.
Britain's Deputy Prime Minister: Israeli settlement construction is 'vandalism'
16 January 2011
Nick Clegg makes statement during press conference with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who begins a three country European tour to consult the stalled peace talks.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Monday that Israeli settlement construction is "vandalism." Speaking at a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Clegg went on to accuse Israel of undermining attempts to broker a Middle East peace deal by continued settlement construction.
"Once you've placed physical facts on the ground that makes it impossible to deliver something that everyone has for years agreed is the ultimate destination... it is an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years," Clegg said, referring to settlement construction.
Abbas was meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy as part of the Palestinian leader’s three country European tour, which takes him from London to Berlin to Moscow this week.
He is expected to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other officials on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Thursday. According to a statement from Abbas’ office, the objective of the trip is for the Palestinian leader to “consult with foreign leaders on the exploratory talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that have been taking place in Amman.”
Abbas’ tour comes as a Jan. 26 Quartet deadline for the resumption of peace talks looms nearer, and following remarks by the Palestinian president concerning “measures” the Palestinians would take against Israel if this most recent attempt to revive negotiations fails.