Israel's authorities unveiled on Thursday, May 10, plans to build three more Jewish settlements to encircle the occupied holy city of Al-Quds, drawing immediate reprimands from Israeli peace advocates and the Palestinians, reported Haaretz daily.
"The committee sees fit to announce its intention to change the district outline plan in order to allow construction in additional areas of the city: Walaja, Givat Alona, the Atarot airport area, and more," said Israel's Planning and Construction Committee of Jerusalem(Al-Quds).
The committee said the plan, roughly derived 10 days ago, is to construct three new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.
The new settlements will include more than 20,000 housing units, besides 500 unites built in the heart of East Jerusalem, near the Palestinian area of Abu Dis.
Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollak, the committee's chairman, said the aim is to create a north-south uninterrupted stretch of settlements, surrounding the holy city.
The Israeli occupation authorities have approved last December plans to build the first officially authorized settlement in the West Bank in more than 10 years.
Some 543 new housing units were built in existing West Bank settlements in 2006.
There are 270,000 Israeli settlers who live in the occupied West Bank among some 2.5 million Palestinians.
The internationally-backed roadmap peace plan demands a halt to settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The international community regards all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 War, as illegal regardless of whether they have Israeli government authorization.
The new Israeli construction plan drew immediate reprimands from the opposition.
This is a project "whose sole purpose is to bring about a provocation that could jeopardize the relative calm in the city," Jerusalem City councilman Pepe Alalou told Agence France Presse (AFP).
Alalou, a member of the leftist opposition Meretz party, said the new settlements are sure to outrage more than 245,000 Palestinians who live in the holy city.
Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war, then declared its annexation in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.
The holy city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Muslim and Christian leaders in Al-Quds announced Saturday, March 3, the formation of a joint front to defending the city and its holy sites against continued Israeli aggressions.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat also slammed the new settlements plan.
"We condemn this decision, which destroys efforts to relaunch the peace progress and annihilates any credibility to this process," he said.
"The Israeli government should choose between colonization and peace because the two cannot go together."
Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2007, 23:14