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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George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, is expected in Jerusalem for talks Saturday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due in Egypt for talks Sunday. The Post quoted a US source as saying the new settlement authorizations weren't a deal-breaker for the US.Skip to next paragraph
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"The settlements aren't the be-all, end-all" of American policy efforts, one State Department official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "Our ultimate goal [is] to create the conditions for negotiations."
The official said that while the new West Bank construction didn't help reach that goal, "this doesn't mean we're going to stop working toward setting the conditions for negotiations."
The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday that Mr. Netanyahu's move to approve the 455 new settler homes in the West Bank may have been aimed at keeping his coalition government together. Right-wing politicians are strongly opposed to the settlement freeze the US is demanding, but the approval of new housing could be enough to satisfy them ahead of a temporary moratorium on building.
The EU also reiterated its call on Israel to immediately end settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001.
"Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace. The European Union reiterates its call on Israel to immediately end settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001," the statement also said.
Israel's ties to Europe have become increasingly strained in recent months. In addition to the EU's harsh condemnation of new settlements, the Associated Press noted that Sweden is in a "nasty diplomatic row" with Israel, Norway has decided to divest from an Israeli defense contractor, and talks on closer EU-Israel trade relations have been put on ice.