Israel to build new settlement in West Bank: radio
A new Jewish settlement will be built in northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, Israeli Army Radio reported Monday.
A tender of 20 residential units was issued recently for the new settlement named Maskiot, which is to be established on the ruins of another settlement abandoned years ago, according to the report.
The report said the construction plan, which was to transform a former army outpost into a permanent settlement for Jewish evacuees from the Gaza Strip, was initiated in late 2006 by former Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, but was frozen due to the U. S. pressure, Xinhua reported.
The United States and other western countries have been calling on Israel to halt its settlement expansion. U.S. President Barack Obama, who will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington Monday, said several times that Israel should stop all settlement activities in line with the obligations that it undertook as part of the 2003 international "roadmap" peace plan.
However, David Ahayeini, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council that oversees Maskiot, has insisted that the construction is being carried out completely legally.
"There is full consensus among Zionist parties that the Jordan Valley must remain under Israeli control within the framework of any diplomatic deal," Ahayeini was quoted as saying. "The Jordan Valley is needed for the sake of state security, and woe to the administration that strays from this path."
The local anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now movement said the move is the proof that "Netanyahu is not ready to commit to a two- state solution" and is striving to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
There are more than 280,000 Israeli settlers currently living in the occupied West Bank and some 200,000 living in settlements in annexed east Jerusalem, according to the Peace Now statistics.