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Israel to build 3,000 illegal houses.

Byline: Mohammed Mar'i

RAMALLAH: The rightist Likud and Israel Beiteinu parties agreed during coalition talks to begin construction of 3,000 housing units in the controversial E1 area between Jerusalem and West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adomim, a report said yesterday.

The Israeli Army Radio quoted a source close to the negotiations as saying that the construction had been agreed upon between Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu and Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman even though it did not appear in the official coalition deal between the two parties.

E-1 is short for "East 1," the administrative name given to the stretch of 12,000 dunams northeast of Jerusalem, to the west of Ma'aleh Adomim. For years, Israel has sought to develop E-1 in order to strengthen its hold on Ma'aleh Adumim, which is one of the largest settlements in the Palestinian territories (about 30,000 occupiers), and one that all Israeli governments have said they want to keep under any future agreement with the Palestinians.

This contiguity will prevent Palestinian construction between East Jerusalem to West Bank city of Ramallah, and will make it difficult to reach agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the question of permanent borders.

This is why the Palestinian Authority and US have strongly opposed this sort of Israeli construction for more than a decade.

Israeli governments have avoided construction in this area, mostly because of US pressure.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Mar 27, 2009
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