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Israel Plans to Double Size of Settlements in Palestinian Territory

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AMMAN – One day before Hillary Clinton begins her maiden visit to Israel and the West Bank as the U.S. secretary of state, an Israeli peace group announced more settlement expansion plans on Palestinian territories, posing an even tougher challenge to the new American administration’s peace endeavors.

In a report released on Monday, Peace Now said the Israeli authorities have plans for 73,302 new housing units in Jewish settlements, which would double the number of settlers in the occupied territory and blow the chances for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

It added that 15,156 units have already been approved, while an additional 58,000 were pending approval. Peace Now warned that if all these plans are realized, the number of settlers in the territories will be doubled to 600,000.

The activist group estimates more than 280,000 Jewish settlers living in 121 settlement blocks in the West Bank and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after its capture in 1967 but has not been internationally recognized.Many Middle East experts agree with Peace Now in warning that the expansion of the settlements and the demographic growth of Israelis in the occupied territories – where the future Palestinian state is aspired to be established – destroy any chance for a viable peace solution that entails two states.

„The government has the power to decide not to carry out plans, or even to halt construction that has begun,” Peace Now said in its report. However, the next government that Israeli prime minister-designate, right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, is trying to form is expected to follow through with the expansion plans (..continuare..)

02 martie, Middle East Times

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