Israel who has the right to decide what is best for them, has already told Obama and Co. that they reject Obama's call to suspend a housing plan in East Jerusalem. Now Israel has officially approved building 100's of new homes in the West bank. What will Obama have to say about this in the upcoming Israel-Palestinian meeting that he will "mediate"? Personally I do not think that Bibi cares what he has to say.
Israel OKs hundreds of new West Bank apartments
By AMY TEIBEL
JERUSALEM – Israel officially approved the construction of hundreds of new homes in the West Bank, the Defense Ministry said Monday, deepening an already unprecedented rift with the U.S. over Israeli settlement expansion.
The construction is the first approved by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under heavy U.S. pressure to freeze all settlement activity on captured lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.
Netanyahu, trying to placate the Americans, has said the newly approved homes are a prelude to a freeze, but that's been a tough sell internationally because Israel also plans to complete an additional 2,500 homes already under way.
Under the order, Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized construction of 366 new apartments, the Defense Ministry announced. An additional 84 new apartments will be approved in the near future, bringing the total number to 450, the ministry said.
The order includes permission to proceed with construction of a new settler enclave in the Jordan Valley, an area that is considered vital to a future Palestinian state because of its rich farmlands and location deep inside the West Bank.
By rebuffing U.S. pressure, Netanyahu has tried to cement the support of a coalition that is committed to strengthening Israel's control over the West Bank.
At the same time, he has offered to slow construction afterward in exchange for overtures from the Arab world. This has not mollified the Americans or the Palestinians, who have demanded an immediate and total freeze.
"Given the choice between making peace and making settlements, they have chosen to make settlements," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded Monday by referring to an earlier statement criticizing the Israeli plans and calling for a construction halt.
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