Berlin: Israeli Construction "Devastating" to Peace

December 19, 2011  

Germany called on Israel to refrain from publishing construction tenders in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem saying it sends a “devastating message” for peace efforts.

“The Israeli government must be aware that the continuous announcements of new settlements convey a devastating message with a view to the current efforts and resumption of peace negotiations,” government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters.

“We strongly urge the Israeli government to refrain from inviting tenders for housing units,” Streiter added.

Israel’s housing and construction ministry said Sunday it would publish tenders for the construction of more than 1,000 housing units to meet natural growth needs and mitigate housing costs in the Jewish State.

According to housing officials 500 of the homes will be built in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem, 180 in Givat Ze’ev, north of Jerusalem, and 348 in Betar Illit, south of the capital.

The tenders are part of a package of nearly 6,000 housing units to be built across Israel, much to the consternation of the Palestinian Authority.

A senior source said Sunday that Jerusalem expected American and European protests, which would not be too sharp because Israel had telegraphed the move.

“We can’t have no negotiations [with the PA] and also no construction,” said Housing Minister Ariel Attias.

Officials in Ramallah have refused to enter direct negotiations with Israel for two years, preferring instead to place an increasing list of preconditions on Israel as a means of avoiding hard concessions they have not prepared their people for at the negotiating table.

A previous 10-month construction freeze aimed at satisfying PA demands in order to appease officials in Ramallah was instead met with demands Israel release all terrorists from its jails and agree to use the pre-1967 lines as a basis for talks.

Israeli officials have said they are willing to sit down without preconditions from either side at any time, noting the PA demands effectively poison the well before negotiations even begin.

MK Otniel Schneller of Kadima expressed his support for the tender, saying, “Anyone who opposes this construction is sacrificing the national, Zionist interest to narrow, political, post-Zionist interests.”

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