JERUSALEM (AFP) – An Israeli planning body has given the green light for 1,300 new homes for Jewish settlers to be built in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday.
The houses will be built in Ramat Shlomo in the northern part of the Holy City where there are already 2,000 settler homes, it said.
It said the decision to go ahead was taken on Tuesday by the Jerusalem urban planning commission, and is one of the most ambitious expansion plans for settler homes in the east of the city.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat expressed outrage at the decision.
“We firmly condemn this project which reveals the Israeli government’s intention to destroy peace,” Erakat told AFP.
“The international community must make Israel stop its settlement activity if it wants to give peace negotiations a chance.”
On June 2, after Israel announced plans to construct 884 more houses in east Jerusalem, the White House warned that building such settlements “exacerbates the tensions” with the Palestinians.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Israel late on Saturday for a two-day trip aimed at injecting momentum into the moribund peace process revived to great fanfare in the United States last November.
Little progress has been made so far, with the thorny settlements issue one of the major bones of contention.
East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.