Israel is planning to build nearly 700 new homes in mainly Arab East Jerusalem despite international demands for a freeze on settlement building there.
Last month Israel agreed to suspend the building of Jewish dwellings in the West Bank but Israel’s housing ministry has invited contractors to bid to build new housing units, on land captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in an area housing officials say is part of the Israeli capital.
Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev said:
“We are currently in a 10-month moratorium on all new settlement construction. But of course in Israel we make a clear distinction between the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and it will remain as such.”
The Palestinians who are planning to locate the future capital of a “hoped for” independent state in East Jerusalem say the move is illegal.
Negotiators are refusing to resume peace talks without a complete halt to settlement building.
Palestinian Housing Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh
said: “Israel is simply trying to push us away from the negotiating table. This Israeli measure proves that the Palestinian position is correct and there is no way that Israel should continue with these measures to ensure the total Judaisation of Jerusalem.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu has laid down two conditions for the resumption of peace talks.
The recognition of the state of Israel – and, he said, “security measures that guarantee effective demilitarisation.”