Palestinians slam new Israeli settlement plans

AFP , Sunday 13 Mar 2011

Palestinian Authority condemns decision of Israeli government to speed up settlement building after murder of Israeli family in Itamar settlement

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday condemned Israel's approval of hundreds of new West Bank settler homes following the grisly murder of a settler family.

The Palestinian Authority "strongly condemns the decision of the Israeli government to speed up and increase the building of settlements," chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

Israel said on Sunday that ministers had decided to approve construction of several hundred units in Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Sefer -- four of the biggest settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, also denounced the move as "a mistake" which was likely to create "big problems."

"The decision taken to build new settlements is a mistake and unacceptable," he said in a statement.

"It will destroy everything and will lead to big problems."

The announcement was also condemned by a spokesman for the UN's pointman on the Middle East, Robert Serry.

"Mr Serry is concerned after seeing media reports announcing 500 new housing units in the occupied West Bank," Richard Miron told AFP. "Settlement activity is illegal and such a decision is not conducive to efforts to renew negotiations and achieve a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace."

The decision to build was taken 24 hours after two adults and three children were stabbed to death in their beds in the Itamar settlement near Nablus.

In reaction, settlers threw stones at houses in a nearby Palestinian village and set fire to a home, while in the southern West Bank, they lobbed stones at cars in several locations near Hebron.

The stoning was also condemned by Erakat, who said the Palestinian Authority "strongly condemns the settler attacks against the Palestinian people" and urged the Middle East peace Quartet "to urgently intervene to stop the actions of the settlers.

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