Israel invites bids to build 1,000 settler homes
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoIsrael is inviting bids to build over 1,000 settler homes in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, the housing ministry said on Sunday, ahead of peace talks with the Palestinians.
"Tenders will be published" later in the day for 793 units in annexed east Jerusalem and 394 elsewhere in the West Bank, the ministry said in a statement, three days before the next round of talks.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel, of the far-right Jewish Home party, dismissed international criticism of settlement building on occupied Palestinian land as illegal and an obstacle to peace.
"No country in the world accepts diktats from other countries on where it is allowed to build or not," he said in the statement.
"We shall continue to market apartments and build throughout the country." The statement said that plots were to be offered in Har Homa and Gilo, both on east Jerusalem's southern outskirts and in Pisgat Zeev, on the city's northern edge.
Tenders would also be invited for homes in Ariel, in the northern West Bank, in Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, and in Efrata and Beitar Ilit, around Bethlehem, it said.
The US State Department said last week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would resume talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday on ending their long-standing conflict.
They resumed direct negotiations in Washington last month ending a three-year hiatus after painstaking US mediation.
The last talks in 2010 broke down on the issue of settlement building.