Israel To Build 851 Housing Units in the West Bank
Israeli authorities on Thursday announced that 851 housing units would be built in the West Bank, a move which was considered immediately by the United States as an action which is “undermining the peace process.” The Housing Minister said that the Jewish state would break ground for 551 housing units and build 300 new apartments in the West Bank, in existing settlements.
According to the estimates of the government, 117 housing units will be built in Ariel, 92 in Maale Adumim, 144 in Adam, 114 in Efrat and 84 in Kiryat Arba and 300 new apartments in Beit El. The move comes after Benyamin Netanyahu’s government won a judicial battle against far-right lawmakers who wanted to sanction all settler homes on private Palestinian land and promised to abide by a court ruling to dismantle five settler apartment houses in Beit El, adding that the families would not have to leave the colony and that 300 more families would join them.
On Tuesday president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, urged the United States and the United Nations to put pressure on Netanyahu so that he may not build the settlements in the Palestinian territory.
Abbas said that the region needed bridges of cooperation and mutual support not settlement expansion. He urged the Israeli side to commit to real negotiations to the purpose of settling the situation between Israel and the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian leader urged the Israeli Prime Minister to take advantage of the international situation and foster a peace between Israelis and Palestinians, adding that at the rate things are progressing in the reason, they may not have another opportunity like this.
In his address, he reiterated the commitment for a two-state solution with the borders before the conflict in 1967, the end of occupation and the ceasing of all settlement activity, as prerequisites for a Palestinian independent state.
The talks between Palestinians and Israeli government have been deadlocked since September 2010, when they broke down at the resumption of the settlement building in the West Bank, after Israel observed a 10-month freeze on settlements.
Before Septembers 26, 2010, the two sides had the opportunity to talk in two rounds of direct, non mediated talks, in the United States and Egypt. After the direct talks collapsed, any attempt to revive them failed, causing each side to accuse the other of stalling.
In 2011, the Palestinian Authority sought to proclaim unilaterally a state of Palestinians and to attain statehood from the United Nations. The bid for statehood was thwarted by the opposition of the United States, which promised to use its veto against any vote on Palestinian statehood in the Security Council.
As the non-permanent members of the Security Council changed that year, and some of them did not share the Palestinian desire to have a state, the vote in the Security Council was postponed indefinitely, making the veto of the Americans unnecessary, as there was not a number of votes in favor of the statehood high enough to need an opposition to it.
At the beginning of this year, Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed the indirect talks at lower-ranking levels in Amman, Jordan. The negotiations did not create the frame for a fruitful follow-up on them.
In April the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent the Israeli PM a letter in which he highlighted the most important desires of the Palestinian negotiation team. Sources say that the leader had to strike out, at the advice of the American president Barack Obama, the threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, the only recognized body of the Palestinians.
The dismantling of the Palestinian National Authority, advocated in April by Yossi Beilin, the Israeli negotiator who masterminded the construction of this body in 1993, in Oslo, would place the Israeli government in the situation of having to provide for the Palestinian people in the territory, a task that is more difficult that it appears considering the various problems the Palestinian community is facing.
Abbas’s threat was made exactly in relation to the news about the tenders published by the Israeli government for more than 800 homes in the territory of West Bank, which in Beilin’s opinion does not help the peace process, making the “two-state solution” a more unattainable goal.
Beilin explained that the Palestinian Authority was designed to be a temporary organization intended to help the negotiations to the end of establishing a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one. The fact that it exists after almost 20 years reflects the stalemate of negotiations.
The idea that the settlement policy of the cabinet in Jerusalem makes it harder for the two-state solution to come into effect has been advocated by the British Foreign Office, which demanded of Israel earlier this year to put an end to the settlement building in the region.
Palestinians have complained that the settlements are fragmenting the territory to an extent which will make it impossible for a state to be establish on it. The Israeli government has explained that an Israeli presence on West Bank must be continued for national security reasons.
Palestinians have objected to a Israeli presence after their state is established, while Israel described in terms related to the NATO presence on the territory of its member states.11