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Expansion of Jewish settlements slows down in east Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- While the expansion of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem had slowed in 2015, the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes had increased, an Israeli non-governmental organization said in a report on Wednesday.

The Ir Amim foundation, monitoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem, issued the report, reviewing the trends in planning, construction and settlement development in east Jerusalem over the course of the past year.

The report found that the rate of tenders issued and new plans promoting construction in east Jerusalem had slowed down significantly in the past year.

Overall, 603 tenders for housing units were published in 2015, most of them in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. For comparison, during the nine months when the U.S.-led peace talks took place between July 2013 and April 2014, Israel published 3,020 tenders.

On the other hand, more Palestinian families have been kicked out of their homes, the group said. According to figures obtained by the municipality, 17 Palestinian families were kicked out of their homes, with 15 others undergoing eviction proceedings and 70 more under the threat of eviction.

The report stated that Jewish settler associations, backed by government bodies, are responsible for the takeovers of homes in the area.

"These activities, advanced with the full cooperation and sometimes active aid of the state, not only exert extreme pressure on Palestinian neighborhoods but also intensify Israeli consolidation of the Historic Basin, further diminishing the viability of a two state solution," the report concluded.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights territories, during the 1967 Mideast War, and in 1981 annexed east Jerusalem, which is not officially recognized by the international community. More than 300,000 Palestinians live in those areas.

The report came as a wave of violence, which started in October, had claimed the lives of 26 Israelis, a U.S. citizen and more than 160 Palestinians.

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