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More settler homes approved as Obama hosts Netanyahu

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-24

The Jerusalem municipality has approved the construction of 20 new settler homes in the occupied eastern part of the city, even as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in tense talks in Washington over US demands for a settlement freeze.

AFP - Local officials have given final approval for the building of 20 apartments for Jewish settlers at the site of a former Palestinian hotel in occupied east Jerusalem, Israel media reported Tuesday.

Officials approved the project, by US millionaire Irving Moskowitz, to build luxury apartments at the site of the former Hotel Shepherd in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah quarter, Israeli public radio and the Ynet website reported.

The announcement came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in the White House with President Barack Obama.

Israeli public radio said the Jerusalem authorities had given preliminary approval to Moskowitz's project last July, and last week gave the final go ahead to tear down the Hotel Shepherd and begin construction of the apartments.

A Jerusalem city spokesman decried as "provocations" attempts to use the announcement to damage Netanyahu's visit to the United States.

"Once the construction permits have been paid for they are automatically issued," the spokesman said on public radio.

Netanyahu has shown no signs of caving in to US demands to halt the construction of new settler homes in east Jerusalem.

The announcement on March 9, as US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel, that 1,600 settler homes were to be built elsewhere in east Jerusalem led to what some analysts have said is the worst row between the allies for years.

Date created : 2010-03-24

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