New Jerusalem settlement hits peace process
Added under Palestine/Israel
Israel is moving ahead with a project to build 1,400 new homes in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, a development that critics claim will deliver a death knell to the already faltering peace process.
The controversial plan drew furious condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and threatened to dash any prospect of a revival of the US-sponsored peace talks, which collapsed last year over the issue of Jewish settlements.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator, said. "This proves the Israeli government has chosen settlements over peace." Plans for the expansion, expected to be presented to Jerusalem's planning commission this week, were also criticized by Washington as "counterproductive" in efforts to get the two sides back into negotiations.
The international community last week condemned the demolition of an historic hotel in east Jerusalem to make way for 20 apartments for Jews, prompting a defiant declaration from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jews should be free to live where they like in the city.
This latest project would extend the existing Gilo settlement, a large neighborhood in East Jerusalem built on lands captured by Israel in 1967 after the Six-Day War, and later annexed. All settlement construction in the occupied sector is regarded as illegal by the international community. The homes would be built on what is currently a picturesque hillside on the other side of the valley from the Cremisan monastery, a popular picnicking spot for Palestinians from the West Bank.
Sources: Independent (UK)
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