Israel has announced plans to construct nearly 1,200 new illegal settlement units on the occupied Palestinian territories, only three days before Palestinian and Israeli officials are to restart the so - called peace talks.
Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel said on Saturday that 1,187 apartments had been given final approval. He went on to say that 793 apartments will be built in East al - Quds(Jerusalem) while 394 others are to be constructed in several neighborhoods of the occupied West Bank, including Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Ariel. The Israeli housing minister further noted that the Tel Aviv regime will continue its settlement expansion activities.
" We will continue to market housing… This is the right thing at the present time, for Zionism and for the economy, " Ariel stated.
The measure is poised to effectively torpedo the attempts to kick-start the long-stalled negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and deepen a climate of distrust between the two sides. Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas had long insisted that he would not resume talks without an Israeli settlement freeze. However, he gave in under unrelenting US pressure at last. Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because the territories were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, and are hence seen as being subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands. Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip and thus are demanding Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds. More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.