Israel announced details of plans to build as many as 2,000 new homes in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem, reigniting an issue that has bedeviled U.S. efforts to broker a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The Housing Ministry said in a text message today it had published tenders for land earmarked for the construction. About 800 of the houses would be built in the West Bank, according to the message.
Palestinians, who oppose any construction in the West Bank that they seek for their independent state, and in east Jerusalem that they see as its capital, criticized the move.
“This decision demonstrates continued Israeli obstruction of U.S. efforts to create a path to peace based on a two-state solution,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said by phone.
Talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began in July and are set to run nine months. He hopes to propose a blueprint within a month that would guide negotiations toward a final treaty, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, said Jan. 7.
Escalating violence between the two sides has already strained efforts to pursue negotiations. In the latest incident, Israel’s air force yesterday struck locations in southern Gaza in response to mortar fire, according to spokesman Peter Lerner.
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