RAMALLAH, March 4 (JMCC & AP) - Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak
has approved 112 new housing units in the occupied West Bank
settlement of Betar Illit
, reports Isreal HaYom
The move comes despite the Israeli government's November announcement of a ten-month settlement construction freeze in the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem
Barak says the new construction in the Betar Illit settlement is necessary because of safety issues. The 10-month settlement slowdown declared in late November was to have restricted building in the West Bank to 3,000 apartments whose construction was already underway.
The government said at the time that exceptions could be allowed, but critics faulted the current decision.
Anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now said the government is demonstrating “that it has no genuine intention to advance the peace process”.