Israel OKs new building projects despite moratorium
Jerusalem: The Israeli government has authorised the construction of another 84 new homes in West Bank settlements, despite the moratorium it announced last week, Israel Radio reported.
Last week, Israel okayed the construction of 28 public buildings including schools and kindergartens, as the moratorium on Israeli construction in the occupied territory applies to residential buildings only.
Also exempt from the partial building suspension announced by the right-leaning government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are some 3,000 residential apartments whose construction had already begun.
But the 84 additional new apartments authorised on Wednesday are not included in that category of exceptions to the moratorium, because their construction has not yet begun and their foundations are not yet in place.
The approvals for the new homes were given nonetheless after talks between Israeli government officials and angry settler leaders.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak, of the left-to-centre coalition Labour Party, invited settlement mayors to his office in Tel Aviv late Wednesday, but only a handful accepted his invitation to discuss the moratorium, the radio said.
Netanyahu, of the hardline ruling Likud party, was also scheduled to hold talks with settler leaders Thursday morning.
Settlers have attempted to sabotage the work of government inspectors seeking to enforce the partial moratorium by blocking roads leading to settlements.
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