Israel has invited tenders to build 77 homes in two settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem.
Most of them are said to be reissues of existing tenders as previous ones were not taken up. Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors and opposes settlement-building on land Palestinians seek for a state, said only 18 of the units were new.
The move is seen as another nail in the coffin for the prospect of a two-state solution.
There’s been strong condemnation from Palestinians – Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the latest move showed Israel was not interested in peace.
The EU’s representative also spoke out.
“The European Union has an extremely clear position on settlement activity, I think you know it by heart. We consider settlements to be illegal under international law, we consider them to threaten the viability of the two-state solution. This is something we are obviously extremely worried about. We also feel that the timing of this decision of course is particularly unfortunate because of course it continues to build mistrust,” said John Gatt-Rutter, the EU’s representative to the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is trying to form a new coalition after his election victory in March, has pledged to increase settlement activity in Jerusalem and other occupied areas.