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Entries in East Jerusalem (4)


Israel's "Grand Strategy": Build More and More Settlements

CB015977Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the Israeli Government has announced its plan to promote planning and construction in the northern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim.

It is unclear how this new plan, following the announcement of 700 new apartments in East Jerusalem and hundreds of housing units in the West Bank, is compatible with the official declaration of a 10-month freeze in settlement construction or how it will contribute to the re-starting of peace talks.

Middle East Inside Line: Egypt & Israel Hope on "Peace Process" with Palestine

Egypt-IsraelOn Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from meetings in Cairo  with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Netanyahu said, "I was very encouraged by the commitment of President  Mubarak toward promoting the peace process between us and the Palestinians. I expect and hope to see such readiness on part of the Palestinian Authority."

In Cairo, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit praised Netanyahu and his proposal on restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. despite the Israeli decision to build 700 more apartments in East Jerusalem. Gheit said, "I can't talk about details, but the prime minister was discussing positions that surpass in our estimate what we've heard from them in a long time. I can't say that he has come with changed positions, but he is moving forward."

Israel-Palestine: Foreign Minister Lieberman “No Peace for 10-20 Years”
Israel: 700 More Apartments in East Jerusalem Despite US Objections


Israel: 700 More Apartments in East Jerusalem Despite US Objections

east_jerusalemOn Monday, the government spokesman Mark Regev announced that Israel is planning to build nearly 700 new apartments in east Jerusalem. He said: "We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such."

Following Regev's announcement, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "We condemn this Israeli policy of continuing settlement activities, and we hope this will be an eye opener for the US administration and other [governments]."

An unnamed Israeli official stated that the Obama administration had been informed about the latest planned construction. A State Department official followed up, telling The Jerusalem Post that Washington had conveyed its displeasure before  the announcement.

Israel-Palestine: Foreign Minister Lieberman “No Peace for 10-20 Years”
Palestine: Abbas “I Promise, No Third Intifada”

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "The United States opposes new Israeli construction in east Jerusalem", with the "permanent status issue" of the city to be resolved through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He continued:

Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible. The government of Israel noted its plans to issue tenders in east Jerusalem and we strongly objected, noting that these types of announcements harm peace efforts.

Israel-Palestine: European Union Steps In With Call for Peace Talks and Israeli Concessions

eu-israel_001A draft document, to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next week, says that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state compromised of Gaza and the West Bank. It also says that the EU did not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.

The draft says that settlements, Israel's separation barrier and the demolition of Palestinian houses are "illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible". Israel's long-running economic blockade of Gaza was "unacceptable" under international law and "politically counterproductive."

Striking a contrasting tone, the draft states that the EU says it hopes the 10-month partial settlement freeze "will become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations" and welcomed Israel's removal of some of its hundreds of checkpoints and obstacles in the West Bank.

Israeli officials were quick to criticise the EU. The Foreign Ministry said:
The move led by Sweden damages the ability of the European Union to take a role and be a significant factor in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
After the important steps taken by the government of Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, the European Union must now exert pressure on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Steps like those being led by Sweden only contribute to the opposite effect.