While Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
met with US Secretary of State John Kerry
Wednesday, the Israel
Civil Administration approved a plan to build 296 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El,
a move which could be interpreted as an attempt to Judaize the West Bank, thereby compromising peace talks with the Palestinians.
Advancement of the plan was made possible in wake of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's
consent to proceed with planning procedures of 12 buildings in the settlements.
His approval was made in line with a promise
the government had made to residents to build 90 new housing units in the settlements in an attempt to prevent clashes during the eviction of the Ulpana
The buildings are expected to be constructed in the area of a Border Guard
base that was evicted in accordance with the building plans.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon met with heads of Jewish West Bank councils Tuesday and told them that construction will continue, a source familiar with the details reported. Netanyahu confirmed that there were delays in issuing construction bids due to errors, but that they would be issued soon.
Livni, Kerry (Photo: Reuters)
Whether she had any knowledge of the advancement of the West bank construction bids, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is overseeing the Israeli effort to relaunch negotiations, discussed the peace process with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome Wednesday.
Kerry, who has been holding talks with Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab officials, is expected to meet Netanyahu
separately later in May.
"I think it is fair to say that we are working through threshold questions and we are doing it with a seriousness of purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while," Kerry told reporters.
"We all believe that we are working with a short time span. We understand the imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can."
Livni said she appreciated Kerry's efforts.
"We believe that relaunching the negotiations and achieving an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is an Israeli interest, but yet there's a need for Secretary John Kerry, with all the enthusiasm and determination that he shows, in order to create something which is new after four years of stagnation and stalemate," Livni told reporters after their talks.
Itamar Fleishman, AP contributed to this report
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