Israel to build 700 apartments in east Jerusalem

Israel said today that it planned to build nearly 700 new apartments in east Jerusalem, drawing tough criticism from both the Palestinians and the US, which denounced it as an obstacle to peacemaking.

The dispute over east Jerusalem is the most intractable – and explosive – in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and consider Jewish neighbourhoods there to be settlements. Israel claims all of the city as its eternal capital.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a slowdown in West Bank settlement construction several weeks ago in hopes of bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But the order did not include construction in east Jerusalem, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.

“We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such,” said government spokesman Mark Regev.

The housing ministry said it had approved a total of 692 new apartments in three existing Jewish neighbourhoods already inhabited by tens of thousands of people.

Israel does not consider its east Jerusalem neighbourhoods to be settlements. It captured the city’s eastern sector in the 1967 Mideast war and immediately annexed the area. The international community does not recognise the annexation.

“We condemn this Israeli policy of continuing settlement activities, and we hope this will be an eye opener for the US administration and other members” of the international community, said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.

The Palestinians have refused to reopen peace talks, which broke down a year ago, until Netanyahu halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. For months, the US has been trying to bring the sides together.

Netanyahu announced the settlement slowdown last month in a bid to rekindle peace talks with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians have rebuffed that overture because the order does not affect east Jerusalem and or block construction that is already under way on 3,000 settlement apartments.

More in this Section

Donald Trump and 3M in medical protective equipment export rowDonald Trump and 3M in medical protective equipment export row

Ancient tooth points to the existence of earless seals three million years agoAncient tooth points to the existence of earless seals three million years ago

I won’t wear a face mask, says Trump, despite new guidelinesI won’t wear a face mask, says Trump, despite new guidelines

Cheltenham Festival organisers defend event after racegoers report symptomsCheltenham Festival organisers defend event after racegoers report symptoms


With documentary film ‘Fantastic Fungi’ set to take the world by storm, Joe McNamee looks at the fabulous world of mushroomsDocumentary explores the magic of mushrooms

I lead a very busy life — I’m a mature student in college — and I separated from my partner but the separation was my decision. I hate myself when it beckons as it ultimately makes me fatter, it has the reverse effectDear Louise: I had my bulimia under control. But the demon has returned

This year has been particularly difficult and stressful, and I think that’s an even more important reason to make time for your health.Derval O'Rourke: Resistance is far from futile and necessary

Best-selling author Faith Hogan is keeping the faith during the lockdown, thanks to her Moy Valley haven in Ballina, Co Mayo.Shape I'm in: Keeping the Faith during lockdown

More From The Irish Examiner