Israel is planning the construction of 3,360 new settler homes in the West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on Thursday, quoting an MP from the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.
“Netanyahu’s government will begin advancing a series of construction plans in east Jerusalem and the West Bank to the tune of some 5,000 new housing units, in an effort to ‘offset’ the release of Palestinian prisoners earlier this week,” said the paper, according to AFP.
The figure includes the construction of 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem which was announced early on Wednesday immediately after Israel freed 26 long-serving prisoners in line with its commitments to U.S.-backed peace talks.
But the report also detailed plans for another 3,360 homes which are to be pushed through various stages of the planning process.
The EU, meanwhile, said it “deplored” Israel’s decision to buy new settler homes in East Jerusalem, saying that settlements were illegal under international law.
“I would like to recall that, on 27 September, the Middle East Quartet called on all parties to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement, according to AFP.
“The EU has repeatedly stated that settlements are illegal under international law. It has also called on Israel to end all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.
“The EU deplores the recent settlement announcements. Any actions that could hamper or undermine the on-going negotiations must be avoided,” Ashton said.