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Newsdeck

Netanyahu says will press ahead with E-1 settlement project in West Bank

Netanyahu says will press ahead with E-1 settlement project in West Bank
epa03947795 Palestinian worker at a construction site in the west bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim overlooking the hills of the E-1 area (far behind), pictured on 13 November 2013. 'Peace Now', an Israeli left-wing organization revealed on 12 November 2013 of a future plan of Israel's far right wing Housing Minister Uri Ariel to build tenders for the E-1 area and some 20,000 additional housing units in the West Bank. Of those some 1,400 pertain to the E-1 area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an immediate stop to the plan, after its publication. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that if the plan goes ahead this will be the end of the negotiations. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

JERUSALEM, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he was moving forward with a plan to build some 3,500 homes for Jewish settlers in one the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, a project frozen after international criticism.

Palestinian and foreign opponents of the construction plan for the E-1 area in the West Bank had cautioned that Israeli housing in the corridor’s barren hills could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and further dim their hopes for a contiguous state.

“I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1,” Netanyahu said, using an administrative term for the first phase of a planning process.

“This had been delayed for six or seven years,” he said in a speech, six days before a national election in which the right-wing Likud party leader is seeking to shore up backing from settlers and their supporters.

The E-1 plan would expand the large Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, effectively connecting it to Jerusalem, about a 15-minute drive away.

On Feb. 20, Netanyahu announced he was reviving a project to build 3,000 new settler homes at Givat Hamatos in the West Bank, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Palestinians and much of the world view Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as illegal under international law. The United States and Israel dispute this. (Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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