Israeli Housing Minister plans to build 10,000 settlement homes to relieve housing crisis
Israel is ready to "immediately" build 10,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to lower housing costs, Housing Minister Uri Ariel was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"To immediately alleviate the housing crisis we must massively build in (East) Jerusalem and the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria" – the Israeli term for the West Bank – the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted Ariel as telling a parliamentary committee.
"Settlements like Beit Arye, Ofarim, Elkana are in the center of the land," he said, "and we are prepared to launch 10,000 units there immediately."
On his Facebook page, pro-settler Ariel noted that "For an entire year there has been no state marketing in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem."
"Not marketing these units is raising the costs of homes nationwide," he wrote.
In May, settlement watchdog Peace Now said that no new tenders had been issued for West Bank homes as newspapers suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to "rein in" construction to help US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to renew a peace process.
However, two days after Netanyahu’s supposed freeze, Israel green-lighted the construction of 296 settlement housing units in the Beit El settlement near Ramallah.
On May 29, settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem revealed that Israel was preparing to build some 1,000 settler homes near East Jerusalem
Israel seized east Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never accepted by the international community. It does not see East Jerusalem construction as settlement building, although construction on occupied Palestinian land is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Palestinians consider East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The PLO has said it will not return to direct talks unless Israel completely halts settlement construction and accepts the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.
Although Israel has expressed an alleged willingness to resume talks, it has insisted it would only do so if there were no such "preconditions".
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