Israel moved forward with plans to build 1,200 new homes in east Jerusalem’s Gilo today, bringing to 2,700 the units to be constructed in an area the Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state.
“What is now necessary is to complete the bureaucratic process and receive the final approval to register and advertise the plan,” the Interior Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. “After that it will be possible to market the land to contractors.”
Wassel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said the new construction drive demonstrates Israel’s “recklessness” and shows “no respect to international law and the laws applicable to the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The latest move comes two weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to an upgrade in Palestinian status at the United Nations by giving preliminary approval for the building of 3,000 housing units in the West Bank. That decision, for an area know as E-1, brought Palestinian protests and criticism from the U.S. and Europe.
Last week a ministry panel gave interim approval for 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem, part of a separate project that raised tensions with the U.S. two years ago.
Netanyahu rejects opposition to construction in east Jerusalem, which was captured with the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War. He says all parts of the city are part of Israel’s capital, a position rejected by the UN and most countries.
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