MP: Israel Stepping up Settlement Activity in Palestinian Territories
Israel intensified its settlement activity in the occupied territories in October, the first full month of the deadly Palestinian uprising, by increasing land sales, a left-wing MP said Monday.
"The lands administration sold 607 parcels of land for construction in the settlements during the month of October," Mossi Raz, an MP with the left-wing Meretz party told AFP, citing official figures.
He said that since the start of the year, 2,700 plots of land had been sold for Jewish settlements at an average monthly rate of around 250," he added.
"This is a grave error by the government, which should on the contrary be freezing construction," he said.
"The pursuit of settlements has drained the hopes of Palestinians in the peace process and a halt to this activity is vital to put an end to the violence", said Raz, a former member of the anti-settlement group Peace Now.
Some 200,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, land captured by Israeli in war 33 years ago, and their fate is one of the key bones of contention in efforts to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian Authority regards all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as violations of international law.
Earlier this month, Peace Now revealed that the Israeli government had earmarked around 300 million dollars in next year's budget for the settlers.
Peace Now accused the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak of continuing the settlement policies of the former right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
"There is no question that the expansion of settlement activity was one of the central elements in Israel's failure to create minimum credibility in the eyes of the Palestinians and, as such, a central reason for the grassroots frustration with the peace process that is fueling the current conflagration," it said.
Close to 290 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in more than eight weeks of deadly unrest during the Palestinian Intifada or uprising against the Israeli occupation -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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