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Israel approves 1,100 new homes in East Jerusalem

A man works on a construction site Tuesday in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, which is built on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem. Israel plans 1,100 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Associated Press

A man works on a construction site Tuesday in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, which is built on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem. Israel plans 1,100 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM — Israel advanced plans Tuesday to build 1,100 homes in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, drawing condemnations from Palestinian officials as both sides consider a proposal by international mediators to resume negotiations.

The Israeli step provoked international criticism, led by Washington, and comes at a sensitive diplomatic moment after the Palestinians' application last week for membership in the United Nations, a move Israel and the United States oppose.

The so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — has proposed steps for the resumption of talks within a month to reach an agreement by the end of next year.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to negotiations unless Israel halts construction of settlements on land they seek for a future state. They claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Interior Ministry said the Jerusalem District Planning Committee had advanced the housing plan in the neighborhood of Gilo, which is built on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem, making the project available for public objections for a mandatory 60-day period before a decision on final approval.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Israeli decision amounted to "1,100 nos to the resumption of peace talks."

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the Israeli move "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration was "deeply disappointed" by Israel's announcement.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Gilo building plan was nothing new. "We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem, period," Netanyahu said. "The same way Israeli governments have been doing for years."

Israel approves 1,100 new homes in East Jerusalem 09/27/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:52pm]

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