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Middle east

Plans for more housing in annexed Palestinian territory

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-24

A plan for a new Jewish settlement in Israeli-annexed Arab Jerusalem has been submitted for approval, the Haaretza newspaper reported Sunday. This comes despite US calls to freeze all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land.

AFP - A plan for a new Jewish settlement in Israeli-annexed Arab east Jerusalem has been submitted for approval to city hall, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The plan calls for the construction of about 104 housing units in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood, currently home to some 14,000 Palestinians, the Haaretz newspaper reported, quoting sources at the Jerusalem municipality.

"This plan for massive construction in a high-density Palestinian area is extremely dangerous for the urban equilibrium," Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, told AFP.

Approval of the plan is certain to cause a storm amid US efforts to get Israel to freeze all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land in order to revive the stalled peace process.

Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Erakat slammed the project, saying in a statement that "Israel’s continued settlement expansion in east Jerusalem is an out and out land grab that threatens the very possibility of a negotiated two-state solution."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the call for a settlement freeze, but in a gesture to Washington he agreed last week not to invite any new construction tenders in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, until early 2010.

The US administration welcomed the announcement as a move in the right direction, but critics said it fell far short of demands for a total freeze on settlement construction, one of the main stumbling blocks in the peace talks.

Israel has always made a distinction, not recognised by the international community, between east Jerusalem, which it regards as part of its "eternal, undivided" capital, and the rest of the West Bank.

The Jewish state captured the territory from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed Arab east Jerusalem in a move not recognised by the international community, which considers all settlements on occupied land illegal.

In a report published on Sunday, Peace Now said almost 600 housing units have been constructed in the West Bank since the start of the year, including 96 structures in wildcat outposts built without Israeli government approval.

"The construction continues with government support in the large settlement blocs and, in a roundabout manner, in isolated colonies," the report said.

About half a million Israelis currently live in settlements in the West Bank including east Jerusalem

Date created : 2009-08-23

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