PLO threatens to take Israeli settlement grievances to UN
RAMALLAH // Palestinian leaders yesterday threatened to go to the UN Security Council over Israel’s announcement of tenders to build more than 1,800 settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
“The PLO is considering a mechanism to go the Security Council and the UN against these new Israeli decisions, especially as there are international resolutions that consider settlements illegal,” said Wassel Abu Youssef, a senior member Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Israel issued tenders to build 1,859 settler homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem yesterday, ahead of a visit by the US secretary of state John Kerry, an NGO said.
The settlement watchdog Peace Now said 1,031 plots were offered by Israel’s housing and construction ministry in the West Bank and 828 in east Jerusalem, and that successful bidders would be able to start construction shortly.
The US secretary of state John Kerry, who brokered a deal to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks earlier this year, yesterday acknowledged the recent tensions over Israel’s stated intention to keep building settler homes.
“There is no doubt ... that the settlements have disturbed people’s perceptions of whether or not people are serious and are moving in the right direction,” he said shortly after arriving in Cairo on the first stop of an 11-day tour, which will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“I remain hopeful, and we will make every effort in the United States to move the process forward in a fair-handed way, a balanced way that reflects the complexity of these issues,” he said.
The plots being advertised are in nine settlements in areas Israel says it intends to keep in any peace deal with the Palestinians.
An Isaeli government official said they are part of the 3,500 settler homes whose planned construction Israel announced on Wednesday when it released 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the US-brokered deal on peace talks.
“The tender bidding process should take between two to three months and contractors could begin to build after about a year,” a Israeli housing ministry spokesman said about the tenders for 1,729 dwellings published on a government website.
Last week, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the interior minister, Gideon Saar, were reported to have agreed to build 1,500 homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.
Peace Now said that of the east Jerusalem sites offered for sale yesterday, 700 were at Ramat Shlomo.
The north-east Jerusalem settlement of mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews sparked the ire of the United States in March 2010, when plans to build there were first announced during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.
The international community has never recognised Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem, which it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.
* Agence France-Presse and Reuters
Updated: November 3, 2013 04:00 AM