x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Israel offers tenders for 198 West Bank settler homes in Hebron, Efrata

Tenders follow a report from Peace Now that says the Israeli prime minister has a history of approving large projects in particularly problematic areas.

JERUSALEM // Israel today issued tenders for 198 new settlement homes in the southern West Bank.

The Israel Lands Administration had issued "new settlement tenders (for) 84 units in Hebron, 114 units in Efrata," said the settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem, referring to the southern West Bank city and a large settlement near Bethlehem.

The announcement came just hours after another Israeli watchdog said the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement policies during his four-year term show intent to make a Palestinian state impossible to create.

The Peace Now group said in a report that nearly 40 per cent of construction starts during the Netanyahu era were in settlements deep in the West Bank, compared to 20 per cent under his predecessor. It said he approved large projects in particularly problematic areas.

The report was released a week before Israel's election, which Mr Netanyahu appears the favourite to win.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. Since capturing these territories in 1967, Israel has moved 500,000 of its civilians there. Netanyahu says he's willing to negotiate but wants to keep Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.

* Reporting by Agence France-Presse and Associated Press