Israel on Tuesday published tenders for 1,213 new homes in settlement neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, and re-offered tenders for another 72 homes in a West Bank settlement, an Israeli NGO said.
Peace Now, citing tenders published by the Israeli housing ministry, said tenders for 607 units in Pisgat Zeev and 606 units in Ramot, both in east Jerusalem, were offered, along with 72 re-offered in the settlement of Ariel.
Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, slammed the new tenders, pointing out they come after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas reiterated his commitment to peace negotiations in an interview with Israeli television.
“Abbas declared again his strong commitment to the two state solution, and (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu replied with thousands of new units in settlements,” the group said.
“It seems that Netanyahu is afraid of the new administration that is being elected today in the U.S., and he has chosen the day of election to publish the tenders so that there will be the least public attention to his action.”
Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The Palestinians say they will not hold talks while Israel builds on land they want for their future state, while Israel says it wants negotiations without preconditions.
The international community considers Israeli settlement construction to be a violation of international law, but the number of settlers in the West Bank has grown to around 340,000, with another 200,000 living in east Jerusalem.
Last month, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories jeopardize security and stability in the region, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.
The Foreign Ministry also urged the Jewish state to halt its announced building of new 800 housing units and government premises in Palestinian territories.
Israeli expansion in Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank “is a clear threat to the two-state solution, which the international community agreed to achieve,” read a statement by the foreign ministry.
“Egypt outlines that the attempts to separate Eastern Jerusalem from its surrounding Palestinian territories in the West Bank, and the endeavors to Judaize it create insurmountable obstacles on the way to just and comprehensive peace between both Palestinian and Israeli sides,” the statement added.
The ministry said that the Egyptian Ambassador in Tel Aviv Atef Salem has communicated the message to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
In October, the Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur, Richard Falk, said that around 600,000 Israeli citizens had already transferred in Palestinian territories and that an estimate of 200,000 had settled in East Jerusalem.
Falk also urged the international community to boycott 13 companies benefiting from business with Israeli settlements.