Initial approval given for West Bank homes

JERUSALEM, May 9 (UPI) -- Plans to build 296 homes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El passed the initial approval stage, officials said.

The plans were approved by the Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria Wednesday. Those opposed to the construction can register objections for the next 60 days, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.


Palestinian negotiators accused Israel of hampering U.S. efforts to restart peace talks, Israel Radio said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon will be required to sign off on the plans before construction can begin.

The report came just days after Army Radio reported Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had recently ordered a freeze on tenders for West Bank settlement construction.

The newspaper said Netanyahu promised to build the new homes in Beit El last June as part of a deal reached with 33 families who agreed to evacuate homes in the Ulpana outpost on the outskirts of the settlement.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, the organization that monitors settlement building, told the paper the freezing of tenders for West Bank settlement construction has had a limited impact on settlement activity. Ofran said much of the construction is private and does not require tenders.


Yiagel DelMonti, spokesman of the Council for Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he didn't understand why the plans caused such uproar. The project had already been announced and was just waiting approval, he said.

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