Monday, December 28, 2009
Palestinians Slam New Israeli Settlement Expansions
The Palestinian Authority has condemned Israel's move to build hundreds more housing units for settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
"The Palestinian Authority strongly condemns the new decision to build in East Jerusalem and wonders whether there is a freeze of settlement activity or an intensification of it," AFP quoted chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as saying.
Erekat addressed the US president Barack Obama's administration, saying Washington "needs to realize that the policies of the Israeli government embody settlements and not peace and that their choice is settlements and not peace."
The Israeli media on Sunday said Tel Aviv invited tenders for the building of some 692 new housing units in three settlements in East Jerusalem Al-Quds, which Israel occupied during the 1967 six-day war and annexed later despite strong opposition from the international community.
The international community has repeatedly called for a permanent halt to all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem Al-Quds, which Palestinians demand as the capital of their promised state.
The new homes come despite Tel Aviv's recent gesture to Palestinians under breaking international pressure to freeze its illegal settlement activities and pave the way for the revival of Middle East peace talks.
In November, Israel announced a 10-month moratorium on building in the West Bank; which does not apply to public buildings and projects already underway, and also excludes East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
Earlier in the month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hawkish government approved 900 new housing units in another East Jerusalem Al-Quds settlement attracting further outrage among Palestinians and a rare criticism from even the United States and other Western allies.