Jerusalem forges ahead on homes

JERUSALEM — City officials moved forward Tuesday with plans to build 900 homes in a disputed neighborhood of Jerusalem, prompting sharp criticism from the White House, the Palestinians and others who feel it will further undermine the chance of renewing peace talks.

The new units will expand the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, one of several built on land taken by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed to the city in a step not recognized by the international community.

The Obama administration has asked Israel to halt building in those parts of town, which the Palestinians feel should form the capital of their future state.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration was "dismayed" at the Jerusalem Planning Committee's approval of the Gilo project.

"At a time when we are working to relaunch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed," Gibbs said.

The Palestinians have said they will not reopen talks with Israel until it stops all Jewish construction in the occupied West Bank and the disputed neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Continued Israeli building, they say, will make it more difficult to negotiate acceptable borders between Israel and a future Palestine.

Israel has refused to do so, particularly in the case of Jerusalem, which it regards as no longer a matter of dispute but as a part of sovereign Israeli territory.

Jerusalem forges ahead on homes 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:33pm]

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