This may very well derail any chance of success of peace talks with the Palestinians. Do we hear outraged cries from McCain and Obama?
Israel mulls building new settlement in West Bank
www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-24 19:02:12
Special report: Palestine-Israel Relations
JERUSALEM, July 24 (Xinhua) -- An Israeli parliamentary committee has greenlighted the construction of 20 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, local media reported Thursday.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is slated to endorse the project soon, which will be carried out at a site named Maskiot in the Jordan Valley, following the approval of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said local daily Ha'aretz.
The project has to be approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to go ahead.
Another newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel originally announced in 2006 that it would build a settlement at Maskiot, where an Israeli military base had been established decades ago, but the plan had been frozen later after it provoked an international outcry.
The impending construction, which The Jerusalem Post said would become Israel's first new settlement in a decade, is certain to infuriate the Palestinians and raise the eyebrow of the Americans, as the two sides have repeatedly warned the Jewish state that its settlement expansion would jeopardize the already sluggish peace process.
"This is destroying the process of a two-state solution," Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as saying. "I hope the Americans will make the Israelis revoke the decision. I think they can make the Israelis do this."
Israel promised not to establish new settlements in the West Bank at a U.S.-hosted Middle East conference last year where Israeli and Palestinian leaders resumed the long-stalled peace talks and pledged to reach a comprehensive peace deal within 2008.
Meanwhile, Israel has given no signal to halt construction in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in 1967 and later annexed, in defiance of the official stance of the United States and the Palestinians' demand that east Jerusalem be the capital of their future state.
Earlier this month, Israel gave tentative approval to a plan to build 1,800 new housing units in Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev, two neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.