Update: The AP reports "The European Union’s foreign policy chief says Israel’s plan to build 1,100 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem 'should be reversed' since it undermines peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
Just days after the Middle East Quartet called on Israel and Palestine to "refrain from provocative actions," Israel has given approval of the construction of 1,100 new homes in an area Palestinians claim as their future capital. As CNN delicately puts it, the move "will further complicate" efforts to restart peace negotiations by the international community. The move prompted swift condemnation from Palestinians who say it reveals the true motives of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "He said at the United Nations he was giving his hand in peace but actually he is digging in the land to build more settlements," Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh said. "It's a slap in the face of the Quartet and the whole international community, which is saying stop settlements." The Quartet he's referring to is the combination of the United States, the European Union, and Russia, which called on the two sides to start negotiations in a month. But that looks less likely now.
Netanyahu defended the Israeli government's decision to move forward with construction saying "We plan in Jerusalem, we build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for years." Pushing back against the idea that the U.S. would criticize the move, he said Americans "know this -- they have followed this a long time. There is really nothing new." He added that Israel would not implement another settlement freeze to appease the Palestinians. As CNN notes, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "has said repeatedly that the Palestinians will not return to negotiations until Israel halted all settlement construction and accepted 1967 border lines as a basis for the return to talks."
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