Israel publishes tenders for 1,401 settlement homes

Jan. 10, 2014 at 8:43 AM
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Israel published plans for 1,401 homes in East Jerusalem and West Bank Friday, despite U.S. and European leaders saying they feared peace talks would be hurt,

After Israel published tenders for 600 new homes in East Jerusalem and 801 in West Bank settlements, Finance Minister Yair Lapid vowed that his Yes Atid party would do what it could to block construction, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"These are not building tenders, but declarations to build that are void of content. It's a bad idea," Lapid said. "Yes Atid will do everything it can to ensure that it remains simply a bad idea and won't be executed."

European leaders and the United States have urged Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to press ahead with new construction in the settlements, saying such a move would hurt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

While refusing to acquiesce, Israel did delay its announcement until after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up his visit to the region earlier this week in the latest round of shuttle diplomacy to advance the nine-month negotiating process that ends in April.

Palestinian leaders have said the land beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders, which encompasses the settlements, should be part of their future state, arguing that continued construction is a roadblock to peace talks, the Post said.

Israeli officials said they believe a final status agreement for a two-state solution will place most of the West Bank settlements under Israeli control.

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