(AFP) – Jul 14, 2008
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has approved the construction of 25 factories in a Jewish settlement in the heart of the occupied West Bank, a spokesman for the settlement said on Monday.
"We have received authorisation from the ministry of defence to pursue construction on the site of our industrial area," Ariel settlement spokesman Reuven Shapira told AFP.
"Around 10 factories exist and the project is to reach 35 factories in this area," he said, adding that work resumed on Monday.
Shapira said the defence ministry had frozen the Ariel project around a year ago to check its feasibility. The settlement lies south of the Palestinian city of Nablus and is one of the biggest in the West Bank.
The Palestinians have repeatedly said the expansion of settlements in the West Bank is the main obstacle to the success of peace talks with Israel formally relaunched at a US conference in November.
The internationally-drafted 2003 peace roadmap, which serves as the basis for the talks, calls on Israel to halt all settlement activities and for the Palestinians to cease all armed attacks.
But since the peace talks were revived, Israel has announced several settlement expansions, mainly in east Jerusalem, which it occupied and annexed in the 1967 war.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its "eternal, undivided" capital and has said all settlement expansions are taking place in areas it expects to keep in any future peace agreement.
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