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A new construction site in the Jewish settlement of Modi'In Ilit in the West Bank, on September 14, 2010/AFP

Kenya

Israel to invite bids to build 1,000 settler homes

A new construction site in the Jewish settlement of Modi'In Ilit in the West Bank, on September 14, 2010/AFP

A new construction site in the Jewish settlement of Modi’In Ilit in the West Bank, on September 14, 2010/AFP

JERUSALEM, August 12 – Israel said Sunday it would issue tenders for 1,000 new settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and Palestinians called this proof Israel is “not serious” about peace talks.

“Tenders will be published” later in the day for 793 units to be built in annexed east Jerusalem and 394 elsewhere in the West Bank, the housing ministry said in a statement, three days ahead of a new round of Palestinian Israeli negotiations.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel, of the far right Jewish Home party, dismissed international criticism of settlement building on occupied Palestinian land as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

“No country in the world accepts diktats from other countries on where it is allowed to build or not,” he said in the statement.

“We shall continue to market apartments and build throughout the country.”

The housing ministry said plots would be offered in Har Homa and Gilo, both on east Jerusalem’s southern outskirts and in Pisgat Zeev, on the city’s northern edge.

Tenders would also be issued for settler homes to be built in Ariel, in the northern West Bank, in Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, and in Efrata and Beitar Ilit, around Bethlehem, it said.

The US State Department said last week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would resume talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday on ending their long-standing conflict.

They resumed direct negotiations in Washington last month ending a three-year hiatus after painstaking US mediation.

The last talks in 2010 broke down on the issue of settlement building.

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Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh slammed the latest move, saying it was proof Israel was “not serious in the negotiations.”

Israel “aims through this condensed settlement activity to destroy the basis of the solution called for by the international community, which aims to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” Shtayeh said.

He said the new tenders were “conditions and new facts on the ground” that Israel was setting in order “to determine the negotiations in whichever way suits it best.”

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