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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Israeli response to Palestinian unity cabinet: 1,500 new housing units in the settlements

Netanyahu told settler leaders last week that 'international constraints' prevent Israel from pursuing construction in West Bank, East Jerusalem.(so why are they not listening? Ed)

by Barak Ravid   5 June 2014     Haaretz

The construction of a synagogue in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit, 2013.

The construction of a synagogue in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit, 2013. Photo by Reuters

The Housing Ministry announced tenders for 1,500 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday night, a move termed by Minister Uri Ariel as a response to the new Palestinian unity cabinet.

According to the statement, tenders were released for 223 new apartments in Efrat, 484 housing units in Beitar Ilit, 38 units in Geva Binyamin (Adam), 76 in Ariel, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 155 in Givat Ze'ev, 55 of which in Agan Ha'ayalot, and 400 new units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

"I congratulate the decision to give a proper Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror cabinet," Minister Ariel said. "The right and duty of the State of Israel to build across the country to lower the housing prices is unquestionable, and I believe these tenders are just the beginning."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday slammed the construction decision as "another policy mistake that will only make it more difficult for us to rally world support against Hamas."

Livni added that the new construction was a "punishment that the people of Israel are getting because of the presence of Habayit Hayehudi in the government of Israel and not because of the presence of Hamas in the Palestinian government." Habayit Hayehudi ministers will take any excuse to build in the settlements, she added. "The construction is a punishment to the nation of Israel that wants peace, and not the Palestinians." 

Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On termed the construction a "price tag activity of the Israeli government," likening it to right-wing protests against any freeze in settlement activity. "I urge the prime minister to stop the price tag activity of the Israeli government," she said. "The construction of 1,500 housing units is an unnecessary provocative policy, om response to the formation of the Palestinian unity government."

Opposition head and Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog, called the government's priorities "fundamentally flawed. Instead of investing the money in construction in the Negev, Galilee and low-income neighborhoods, [the government] is gouging Obama's eyes out and acting like diplomatic pyromaniacs."

Israel is in the midst of a diplomatic landslide, Herzog said, adding that Netanyahu and Lieberman must assume responsibility for the consequences. "The prime minister is gambling with the future of the state of Israel," he said.

A new Palestinian cabinet was sworn in on Monday, the culmination of a reconciliation deal between the long-estranged Palestinian movements, Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, respectively.

The reconciliation and new cabinet were met with scorn in Israel, but was internationally recognized despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's calls against it.

At a meeting with settler leaders last week, Netanyahu said that though he is in support of construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, there are "international constraints" against it.

The Israeli government decided Monday that no talks will be held with the new Palestinian cabinet. The ministers decided the new cabinet will be held responsible for any attack against Israel, both from the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip, including rocket fire. Though the government did not level any new sanctions against the Palestinians, it authorized the PM to do so. The ministers also decided to set up a team "to examine possible actions facing the new reality, and prepare for future diplomatic and security scenarios."

In the cabinet meeting, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett led the hardline and said Israel must announce it doesn't recognize the new Palestinian government and that it severs all ties with it. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid objected, saying Israel must retain at least some communication with the new government. Finally, Livni and Lapid's stance was accepted and it was agreed contact with some of the new Palestinian ministers can be maintained on a case-by-case basis and per the PM's approval. The cabinet also agreed not to cease security cooperation with the Palestinians.

During the meeting, Bennett and Minister Gilad Erdan raised the possibility of annexing parts of the settlement blocs. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon objected, saying this step should only be examined in response to Palestinian unilateral steps at UN recognition.


Israel plans to build over 3,000 new settler homes in occupied territories to punish the Hamas backed Palestinian Authority

by Ben Lynfield          5 June 2014        The Independent

Israeli Minister of Housing announces tenders for construction projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

Defying criticism at home and abroad of its announcement that it will build 1500 units of settler housing in occupied territory to punish the Palestinian Authority for forming a government backed by the militant Hamas group, Israel has said that it will advance plans for another 1800 units of such buildings next week.

The plan to hold a meeting next week “to move ahead plans” for more settler housing was confirmed to The Independent by Guy Inbar, a spokesman for military administrators. It came only hours after the Israeli Minister of Housing, Uri Ariel, announced tenders for the West Bank and the Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, terming this “an appropriate Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror government.” It was the first issuing of tenders since the collapse of the peace process more than a month ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had slapped a moratorium on new tenders, apparently to avoid attracting further blame for the demise of the talks. But that is now over. Mr Ariel said the tenders were “just the beginning”

Palestinian leaders said they would not remain quiet over the settlement expansion and spoke of using their non-member state status at the UN to hold Israel accountable for violating international law. Settlement contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention's ban on an occupying power settling its nationals in the occupied territory.

US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro criticised the building plans and within Israel, the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, who was also chief negotiator with the Palestinians, predicted they would backfire. “This is a diplomatic mistake that will only make it more difficult for us to mobilise world opinion against Hamas.”

Other Israeli leaders, however, blamed the international community for purportedly being duped by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and by Hamas to believe the Palestinian government is merely one of technocrats rather than reflecting Hamas's espousal of Israel's destruction. “The terrorist organisations are trying to dress themselves up as civilised and sane but even if a snake wears a fashionable modern suit it will still remain a snake,” cabinet minister Uzi Landau told Israel Radio.

The United States, European Union and United Nations have all made clear they will deal with the new Palestinian government that was sworn in on Monday after its ministers were chosen in consultation with Hamas as part of a Palestinian national unity pact. The government's main task is to prepare for legislative and presidential elections but Israel has said it will thwart any effort to hold balloting in East Jerusalem.