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Israel issues tenders for West Bank housing

January 30, 2015

Hundreds of tenders have been issued by Tel Aviv to build houses on the West Bank ahead of the national election. The White House has condemned the plans, calling them counterproductive.

A 2012 photo of a West bank housing project in Kirjat ArbaImage: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Hashlamoun

The Israeli government issued hundreds of tenders for housing units in the West bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now reported on Friday, adding that 450 tenders had been announced for building homes in the area Palestinians seek for their own state.

Government officials however denied that the tenders issued were for new homes. Ariel Rosenberg, spokesman for Israel's Housing Ministry, said the government was simply remarketing tenders that failed to sell when they were offered last year.

The Israeli government "was trying to create facts on the ground ahead of the election," Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told news agency AFP. National elections are scheduled to take place on March 17 in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking a fourth term in office.

The tenders were issued for construction in several areas near the West Bank city of Hebron as well as in the Jerusalem area.

EU and US condemn Israel's plans

The White House condemned the plans with State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying the US believed the tenders to be "illegitimate and counterproductive to achieving a two-state outcome." The orders would have detrimental impacts on the ground and heighten tensions with Palestinians while isolating Israel internationally, she added.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also called for Israel to "reverse these decisions, thereby putting an end to settlement expansion."

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in what is called the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel cited historical and biblical links to the territory, creating homes for more than 500,000 of its citizens.

Palestinians have repeatedly said the land belongs to them and want it as a part of their future independent state.

mg/kms (AFP,AP, Reuters)