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    Palestinian protestors walk with their national flag during a demonstration on a hill in the West Bank village of Bilin in front of the Israeli settlement of Modiin Illit (background) on February 27, 2015

    Whoever Wins Israeli Election, Settlements in West Bank Will Continue

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    Israeli General Election 2015 (52)
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    Israel will not stop construction of new settlements on the disputed West Bank territories regardless of who wins the upcoming parliamentary elections in Israel, according to the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative party.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — Israel will increase new construction in occupied West Bank territories after upcoming parliamentary elections, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) party told Sputnik.

    "There is no […] difference in this matter," Mustafa Barghouti told Sputnik. According to Barghouti, Israeli policy toward peace with Palestine and the long-standing disagreement on new settlement activity will remain, regardless of who wins the upcoming election in Israel.

    "Neither of the two major Israeli parties, which are likely to configure the next Israeli government, has a real program or presented positions on how to achieve peace with Palestinians," Barghouti stated, adding that the most powerful Israeli political parties want to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that has East Jerusalem as its capital city.

    According to Barghouti, new settlements are not the only problem. Other issues include existing Israeli settlements, as well as bypass roads and military checkpoints built into territories occupied by Israel on Palestinian soil.

    "When you place this system on the map you will discover that it is developed to confiscate Palestinian land and prevent creation of independent Palestinian state," Barghouti concluded.

    The official also told Sputnik that the United Arab List and Meretz, also running for the parliamentary elections in Israel, are the only parties that are interested in the continuation of the peace negotiations.

    "In my opinion, the only two parties that can bring peace to the Middle East are the United Arab List that includes smaller Arab parties and one joint Arab-Jewish faction and Meretz, which is a Jewish left-wing secular party that emphasizes a two-state solution," Barghouti said.

    The Fight for the Knesset

    An early general election for the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, was scheduled for March 17, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to overcome a dispute within his ruling coalition and dismissed his finance and justice ministers in December 2014. 

    According to a recent poll conducted by Israeli Radio published last Friday, the center-left Zionist Union is gaining ground against the right-wing Likud party.

    The Arab List could win as many as 15 Knesset seats, the secretary-general stated adding that "the Arab parties are very important for protecting the rights of the Palestinian minority."

    According to Israeli legislation, any of Israel's 6.5 million population can vote, including the 20 percent Palestinian minority who are citizens of Israel. However, over 350,000 residents of East Jerusalem, Palestinians with Jerusalem identification cards, cannot vote in national elections, although they can cast ballots in municipal elections.

    Barghouti underlined that this year, due to changes in Israel's election laws, the three smaller Arab parties and one joint Arab-Jewish faction were forced to unite into one bloc.

    "It is a good indication of their ability to work together and it shows that they have a strong sense of responsibly for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the occupied territory," he said.

    West Bank in the Spotlight

    The West Bank is an area disputed between the governments of Palestine and Israel. It was occupied by Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War. Since then, Israel has built numerous settlements and recently announced new construction plans. Condemnation by Palestine authorities and the international community have done nothing to deter Israeli plans.

    In August 2014, Israel announced it would appropriate 400 hectares of land in the West Bank to build about 1,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

    In November 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allocated $18 million to build 300 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

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    Israeli General Election 2015 (52)

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    settlements, construction, United Arab List, Meretz, Palestine, Israel, West Bank
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