Israeli settlers begin new settlement expansion outside Jenin
By SAED BANNOURA
Despite a statement by US officials Friday that they were disappointed in Israel's decision to continue expanding settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, new and existing settlements have begun a massive building spree, including in several settlements near Jenin.
The Jenin-area settlements are particularly controversial due to their proximity to Palestinian cities and towns deep inside the West Bank, areas which were supposed to be under complete Palestinian control since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
The Shaqed settlement, which is constructed on Palestinian land stolen from the village of Ya'bad, began a huge expansion on Saturday, bulldozing Palestinian fields and olive groves in preparation for the new construction.
Local witnesses report that construction has also begun in nearby settlements including Shaqed, Rehan, Hinnanit, Mevo Dotan. and Hermesh. Together, these settlements form a circle around the Palestinian village of Ya'bad, on whose land the settlements are constructed.
Although the Palestinians in the area point out that the Jenin-area expansions are particularly egregious, the violations are taking place all over the Palestinian areas since US-brokered negotiations broke down two weeks ago.
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, and have been condemned by multiple United Nations resolutions.