Settler homes approved in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AFP) —  The Jerusalem municipality has given the green light for the construction of 11 new apartments in the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the annexed east of the city, a councilor told AFP on Saturday.

“The municipality approved at the beginning of the week the construction of 11 apartments, as part of a project of 300 housing units supposed to be approved section by section,” Pepe Alalou of the leftist Meretz party said.

Israel on September 27 approved a plan to build 1,100 new homes in a Jewish-only settlement, prompting an angry reaction from the international community and Palestinian officials, who said it amounted to a direct rejection of international efforts to restart peace talks.

Both the US State Department and the White House issued strong condemnation after Israel’s interior ministry said the new housing units in Gilo in East Jerusalem had been cleared by its district planning committee.

Russia, the US, United Nations and European Union — members of the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace — launched a bid to bring the sides back to negotiations as President Mahmoud Abbas submitted Palestine’s application for membership of the UN in September.

The proposal included a return to negotiations within a month, credible terms on borders and security in three months, and a deal by the end of 2012.

Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said Saturday that “the Quartet should realize that the aim of negotiations is to end the occupation and that settlements deepen the occupation.”

The proposal did not mention a settlement freeze.

The issue of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to peace negotiations and the implementation of a two state solution.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. All settlements built on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

Some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians in the same territory.

( / 08.10.2011)

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