Israel plans to build more homes in East Jerusalem

Israel has announced plans for nearly 700 homes in mainly Arab East Jerusalem – despite Palestinian and international demands that it freeze building there.

The US and EU criticized the move, which follows plans unveiled last month for 900 homes on occupied land in Gilo, south of Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognised internationally.

The Palestinians want to locate their future capital in East Jerusalem.

They said the plans showed Israel was “not ready for peace”.

Dismay

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement: “The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.”

Washington reiterated its call for both sides to resume stalled peace talks as soon as possible.

The European Union said it was “dismayed” by the announcement.

“Settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law,” it said.

The new plans “contravene repeated calls from the international community and prevent the creation of the an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations,” a statement from the Swedish EU presidency said.

Obstacles to peace: Jerusalem

Israel’s housing ministry announced on Monday that it has invited contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 homes in Neve Yaakov and 117 dwellings in Har Homa, which are built on land captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

It is part of an invitation to bid for contracts on 6,500 housing units across the country.

The new buildings will make apartments cheaper and more affordable for young families, the Israeli housing ministry said.

Last month, Israel announced a 10-month suspension of new building in settlements in the occupied West Bank, under heavy pressure from the US.

But the right-leaning government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that it does not regard Jewish areas in Jerusalem as settlements and the restrictions do not apply there.

The Palestinians have refused to resume peace talks without a complete halt to settlement building in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Continue reading: BBC News

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Posted in Israel, Palestinian Territories, Reports/Studies/Books

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