Israeli settement expansion unabated: Rights group

Construction is continuing unabated in 101 Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Israel's Peace Now group said on Monday in a report released during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israeli settement expansion unabated: Rights group
The report pointed to government policy which the group described as a "slap in the face" to U.S.-brokered peace efforts.

Peace Now said Israel was building in 101 settlements and not a single construction project had been frozen despite a U.S.-backed peace road map's call for a halt to all settlement activity in the West Bank.

The group, which regards settlements as harmful to Israel's security, society and economy, said construction of at least 500 buildings was under way in the enclaves.

Settlements has been a major source of friction between Israel and the Palestinians. The Word Court has determined that Israeli settlement-building on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war is illegal.

Peace Now noted that Israel announced this year plans to build hundreds of housing units for Jews in and near Arab East Jerusalem, a surge compared with two tenders issued in all of 2007 for the construction of 46 homes in the area.

Defying U.S. criticism, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last week that Israel would not stop building on occupied land in and around Jerusalem, construction Palestinians see a bid to cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Peace Now released the report as Rice continued talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on moving ahead in peace negotiations that began at a U.S.-sponsored international conference in Annapolis, Maryland last November.

The United States hopes the talks will lead to a peace deal by the time President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Last Mod: 31 Mart 2008, 14:34
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