In contrast to its plans to pull out of Gaza, the Israeli government intends to build more than 6,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria this year. Israel’s biggest newspaper “Yediot Ahronot” cited a plan by the Israel Lands Administration to build 6,391 new homes, including 2,100 in Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement of 30,000 people just outside Jerusalem. The building plan follows a cabinet decision earlier this week that attaches Ma’ale Adumim and the Gush Etzion bloc to greater Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made no secret of his strategy--to get rid of overpopulated and violent Gaza, while tightening Israel's grip on the Biblical heartland of the West Bank. The Palestinians charge that expansion of Jewish communities in the territories is a violation of the “roadmap” peace plan which calls for a settlement freeze.