The US and EU have repeatedly denounced construction for Jewish residents in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. Now they are doing it again, claiming it is an ‘obstacle to peace.’
Israel approved on Thursday the construction of 900 homes in Jerusalem, a decision which caused a rift between Israel and the US and European Union (EU).
Israel first announced the plans in 2010 during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, sparking a diplomatic spat with Washington. This decision was made by the city’s district planning committee, another bureaucratic step towards actual construction.
US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the move was “damaging and inconsistent” with efforts at resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians by negotiating a two-state solution, a policy promoted by the Obama administration but not fully accepted by Israel, which views a united Jerusalem as its capital. Much of the international community views Jewish communities in the eastern part of the city as “illegal settlements.”
“This is a disappointing development, and we’re concerned about it just as a new Israeli government has been announced,” he said. “Moving forward with construction of housing units in east Jerusalem is damaging. We continue to engage with the highest levels of the Israeli Government, and we continue to make our position clear that we view this as illegitimate,” Rathke said.
“The secretary-general is deeply concerned by recent announcements of plans by Israeli authorities for 900 settlements in East Jerusalem that are illegal under international law,” the spokesman for Ban Ki-Moon, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters Thursday.
“Israel’s determination to continue its settlement policy despite the urging of the international community not only threatens the viability of the two state solution but also seriously calls into question its commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians,” the EU said in a statement on Saturday.
The US and EU have repeatedly condemned Israel, almost on a monthly basis, for every bureaucratic step it takes regarding building in the city.
In December, Ha’aretz reported that the Obama administration will impose sanctions on Israel because of its building plans in Jerusalem, and Congress demanded clarification on the issue.
When Israel was similarly condemned in October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the right of Israelis to live and build in Jerusalem, their capital city. “I don’t understand this criticism, and I don’t accept this position. Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden. I will also not say that Jews cannot buy property in Jerusalem. There cannot be discrimination between Jews and Arabs. This is a normal process, and I see no reason to discriminate,” he said, while briefing reporters in New York.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff