Palestinians want urgent session on Israeli settlements

2014-10-28 15:57
A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (background), known to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, in Israeli annexed east Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP)

A bulldozer is seen next to a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa (background), known to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim, in Israeli annexed east Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP)

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Ramallah - Palestinian officials said on Tuesday they would push for an "urgent session" of the United Nations Security Council, a bid to stop an Israeli plan to build 1 000 new flats in East Jerusalem.

Jordan, a non-permanent Security Council member, said it would submit the request on behalf of Palestine, which is not a full UN member, but achieved observer state status in November 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office confirmed Monday a plan to build some 400 apartments in Har Homa and more than 600 in Har Shlomo. Both are what Israel calls Jewish "neighbourhoods" of Jerusalem because they fall within the Israeli-drawn municipal boundaries.

The international community calls them Jewish settlements, since they were built on West Bank land, beyond the "Green Line" separating Israel from the occupied territory.

Israel would also launch new infrastructure projects in the West Bank, an official in Netanyahu's office told dpa on condition of anonymity.

The confirmation came after Israel's Channel 2 reported late Sunday that Netanyahu, in a meeting last week, had struck a deal with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, in return for a promise of coalition stability.

Under the reported deal, more than 2 000 new apartments would be built in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank. Twelve roads would also be paved.

"Double standard"

The announcement sparked immediate international condemnation.

"We view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem," said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The EU asked for "clarifications" and warned that such activity could impact the future development of EU-Israel relations.

Netanyahu again rejected the criticism on Tuesday.

"I've heard a claim that our construction in the Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem pushes away peace," he told reporters in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. "Those statements are detached from reality."

He complained that the international community had a "double standard" and failed to condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, while jumping upon each Israeli construction plan.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas was "fed up with the failure of the international community to force Israel to stop its settlement activities, which destroy the two-state solution."

"For this reason, he gave instructions to call for an urgent session for the Security Council, so that the international community will shoulder its responsibility on this matter," he told Voice of Palestine Radio.

Read more on:    un  |  eu  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  jerusalem  |  palestine  |  middle east peace  |  middle east

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