Israel approves 186 new east Jerusalem homes
Israel granted final approval Wednesday for plans to build another 186 new homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, a city councillor told AFP, drawing an angry reaction from the Palestinians.
Yosef Pepe Alalu said the council's planning committee had granted "final approval" to plans to build 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa.
Both are settlement neighbourhoods built on territory seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
The decision comes as US-led peace talks teeter on the brink of collapse ahead of an April 29 deadline, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the sides to agree to a framework proposal to extend the negotiations to the year's end.
So far, the Palestinians have flatly refused to countenance any extension, partly due to Israel's persistent settlement construction which has shown no let-up since talks began in late July 2013.
Lior Amihai, a spokesman for the settlement watchdog Peace Now, said "this is a sad decision by the Jerusalem municipality, with the government's approval, to advance the construction of 186 new homes in east Jerusalem as the international community is trying to keep the negotiations alive."
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called on the international community to rein in Israeli building.
"It is has become evident that Israel has done everything possible to destroy the ongoing negotiations and to provoke violence and extremism throughout the region,” she said.
"Israel is deliberately breaching international law and conventions, and it is time that all states undertake punitive measures to hold Israel accountable."