Settler homes to be doubled in Hebron
Jewish soldiers guard the 700 Israeli settlers living in the center of Hebron. Under international law, building settlements in Hebron and other West Bank territories is illegal (Courtesy of Mamoun Wazwaz/Maan Images)
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Israel's housing minister called to double the number of Jewish settler homes in Hebron Thursday, according to AFP reports.
Minister Uri Ariel, who also leads the right, hardline Jewish Home Party, told the army radio that he supported "concrete plans for the construction of 100 (new) homes in Hebron."
Ariel, who already lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, told the radio station that the ministry was preparing the building project, and hope to begin construction during the coming year.
Discussions on building new settlements in Hebron surfaced last month following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for Jewish ownership of a disputed home. Previously, the government removed fifteen Jewish settlers from the house for legal reasons, but the killing of an Israeli solider by a suspected Palestinian man in late September prompted the PM to change his policy accordingly for the West Bank territory-wide.
Settlement disputes similar to the current Hebron case have previously "derailed" peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in 2010. Reporters fear that Thursday's announcement, which coincides with intensifying peace talks between Israel and Palestinians renewed this year, will stalemate negotiations once again.
Building settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem is considered illegal under international law, but Israel nonetheless announced in August that it has approved construction plans for more than 2,000 new settler homes in these forbidden territories.