Israel pushes ahead with East Jerusalem building
The move comes after Israel approved hundreds of new settler homes in the West Bank. The US has demanded a full settlement freeze to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
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Israel announced building plans in contested East Jerusalem today in a move likely to complicate US-Israel talks over a freeze on Israeli settlements in disputed territories.
The Obama administration has pressed Israel for a freeze on all settlement activity as a condition for a return to peace talks with the Palestinians. Israel has shrugged off that demand (as this political cartoon and this one illustrate.)
The Associated Press reports that the Israeli government on Tuesday announced that it had picked developers for 486 new apartments in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood after delays over pricing. Earlier, Israel approved 455 new apartments in the West Bank, the AP reported.
"While the government of Israel for the sake of the peace process is willing to consider placing severe limitations on construction in the West Bank, that does not apply to Jerusalem," government spokesman Mark Regev said. "The position of the government is that Jerusalem is and will remain the united capital of Israel."
Palestinians say Israel illegally annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, a position backed by most of the international community and by multiple United Nations resolutions. Palestinians demand the return of that territory as part of their future state, and plan to establish their capital in East Jerusalem. (Click here for a map of East Jerusalem from Palestine Monitor.)
The Jerusalem Post , a conservative newspaper, played down the new settlement authorizations, reporting that they would not derail talks with the US, and that diplomatic efforts would go on as planned.