All eyes are on Jerusalem following Israel’s approval of planning permission for a block of 1,100 new homes in the Arab east of the city.
The homes will be built in Gilo, an already sprawling enclave in the south-east. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and many are not happy.
“By announcing these settlements today Israel has said 1,100 ‘nos’ to the resumption of negotiations, to the two-state solution, so the Americans, Europeans, Russians and the UN are confronted with these 1,100 ‘nos’ from Netanyahu. This government has chosen settlements and not peace,” said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
The Palestinians have demanded a halt to building before they will return to the talks table. The Americans immediately said they thought the new homes would not help talks resume.
“We consider this counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties, and we have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem,” said the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there is no need for more building freezes like last year’s 10 month moratorium which, he claimed, had failed to yield results.
Lack of results was one reason behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ application for full statehood at the UN last week.