The freeze on building Israeli settlements announced by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the Annapolis summit appears to have come to an end with the announcement by the Israeli Housing Ministry that they are planning to build 1,900 housing units across the West Bank, the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot has reported.
According to the newspaper, it’s ten years since such large scale plan for settlement building has been proposed. The plan comes in the wake of Olmert’s promise to the religious Shas party to revoke the decision to freeze the construction of settlements.
The plan, which was coordinated with Olmert’s office, is to build 158 new housing units in the settlement of Efrat south of Bethlehem, 682 units in the settlement of Beitar Illit west of Bethlehem, 160 units in the settlement of Benyamin, near Ramallah, 510 units in Giva’t Ze’ev south west of Ramallah, 302 units in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement east of Bethlehem, 48 in Kiryat Arba near Hebron and another 48 units in Ariel, near Salfit.
A number of contractors have begun preparations for the expansion of Givat Ze’ev, with bulldozers ready and waiting for Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to sign the construction plan.