Thursday, August 11, 2011

Israel to build thousands of homes in East Jerusalem

The Israeli Interior Ministry has announced the approval of the construction of 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo settlement in East Jerusalem. This presents a challenge to the Palestinians and the international community, which considers the construction contrary to international law. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, plans also approved the building of other houses in 2700 "the next few days," a ministry spokesman said.

The projects have been approved "by the economic crisis in Israel. It will assist those seeking land to build in Jerusalem," the spokesman added in a nod to the social protests that take place throughout the country since mid- July due to rising house prices. The Israeli Government has insisted that the construction of 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo settlement, the 700 in Pisgat Zeev and 2,000 in Givat Hamatos not respond to political reasons, but purely economic.

This announcement comes at a time of diplomatic tensions, as the Palestinians expected to apply next September, the creation of a Palestinian state within the UN. The prospects of resuming peace talks, stalled for nearly a year, are almost canceled. To resume the talks, Palestinian officials call for a new suspension of colonization including East Jerusalem, to which Israel has refused, despite pressure from the international community.

Tensions between the U.S. and Israel's construction of 1,600 homes in the settlement of Ramat Shlomo was announced in March 2010 during a visit to Israel of U.S. vice president, Joe Biden. This news caused the cooling of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Washington, as the international community does not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel in June 1967.

On Thursday the Israeli Interior Ministry had already approved the construction of another 900 homes near Har Homa, a settlement near Bethlehem in the West Bank, a decision has been criticized by the Palestinians, the United States and the European Union. More than 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank population continues to grow.

Another 200,000 have settled in colonies in East Jerusalem, home to some 270,000 Palestinians.

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