Israel Approves 558 East Jerusalem Settlement Homes
Israeli officials have given final approval for 558 new apartments in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.Jerusalem city council said its planning committee approved building permits in three neighbourhoods.
The units are to be erected on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed, a move not recognised internationally.
Settlements built there are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Building permits were granted for the neighbourhoods of Har Homa, Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev, according to the city council.
Palestinian officials said the decision undermined fragile US-brokered peace talks, which resumed in July.
“Israel is engaging in the deliberate provocation of the Palestinians, to drive them to leave the negotiations in protest of Israeli violations, and therefore should be blamed for the destruction of the peace process,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
A dispute over settlement construction led to the collapse of the last talks.
There has been little sign of progress from the latest direct negotiations, mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
A city council spokeswoman said the plans for the apartments were approved “years ago” and that new building in Arab areas of Jerusalem was also approved on Wednesday.
About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
An estimated 200,000 settlers currently live in East Jerusalem, alongside 370,000 Palestinians.
Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital. However, Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.