Palestinians furious at Israeli plan to build more homes in east
Palestinians accused Israel on Friday of doing everything it could to
scupper peace talks in an angry response to the announcement of a fresh
batch of homes for Israeli settlers in contested east Jerusalem.
By Mark Weiss in Jerusalem
Published: 1:13PM BST 15 Oct 2010
Palestinian anger at new homes in east Jerusalem
Jewish settlers watch as cement is poured during a foundation laying
ceremony Photo: REUTERS
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, accused Israel of
"killing" opportunities to revive peace talks, which have stalled over
the issue of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israeli officials said the announcement of 238 new housing units in the
east Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev was part of a
wider housing plan. They said the number of new apartments planned for
east Jerusalem had been cut following criticism from Washington.
According to the Israeli officials the US protest had been mild.
Yesterday's was the first tender issued for new Jewish homes in east
Jerusalem since the visit by Joe Biden, US vice-president, to Israel in
March. Mr Biden was embarrassed when an announcement that 1,600 housing
units would be built was made during his trip.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egyptian foreign minister, said that in response to
the settlement construction that Arab states might ask the United
Nations to recognise the declaration of a Palestinian state as early as
next month. "If Israel does not respect the settlements freeze," he
said, "the Arab League will study some other option aside from the
Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day war and has
declared the whole of the city its unified capital. Palestinians want
east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem were not included when Israel
declared a 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction
last November. However, Israel promised Washington that there would be
no "provocations" regarding east Jerusalem.
The latest announcement follows last month's end of the 10-month
freeze, and the refusal by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister,
to extend the moratorium – a move that prompted the Palestinians to
suspend direct peace talks. This week the Palestinians rejected out of
hand an offer from Mr Netanyahu to extend the building freeze in return
for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.