UN envoy slams new Israel settlement plans

JERUSALEM- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to add hundreds of new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank is "deeply troubling," the UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry said on Thursday.
The statement from Serry, the UN's Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, reiterated "the international community's view that all settlement construction, whether on private Palestinian land or elsewhere in occupied Palestinian territory, is contrary to international law."

"The latest announcements, including adding 300 units in Beit El, deep inside the West Bank are deeply troubling," Serry added.
The statement came a day after Netanyahu pledged to expand the Beit El settlement after MPs voted down a bill which would have saved five buildings in one of its neighbourhoods from demolition.
The Knesset vote, which saw 69 MPs oppose the legalisation bill against 22 in favour, effectively ended legislative efforts by the settler lobby and its right-wing supporters to avoid a court-mandated July 1 removal date.
But Netanyahu warned after the vote that he would not allow people to "use the legal system to harm the settlement movement," and announced plans to add the 300 new homes to Beit El, which is near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Beit El will be expanded, the 30 families will remain in Beit El, and 300 new families will join them," he said.
Later Wednesday, Israel's housing ministry announced its intention to market another 551 units in other West Bank settlements.
Israeli settlement construction has proved a key sticking point in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want a settlement freeze before resuming direct talks that have been on hold since late September 2010.

Thursday, June 7th 2012

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