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Palestine condemns Israel’s new settlement scheme
Palestine condemns Israel’s new settlement scheme
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Saudi Gazette - The Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday that Israel’s plans to build 1,500 new settler homes in occupied east Jerusalem was destroying the peace process.

The move “destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said in a statement.

Sa’eb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator and head of the PLO’s Negotiations Department, told the Voice of Palestine Radio that the Palestinian leadership “totally and strongly condemn and reject the new Israeli project.” He added that the decision “undermines all chances left for reviving the peace process.” Erekat said that project is “another attempt by Israel to resolve the fate of West Bank and Jerusalem through the de facto policy.”

The Palestinian official said that “achieving peace and stability for all requires ending the Israeli occupation and its measures in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, immediately.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar agreed to expedite four construction plans in occupied east Jerusalem in bid to provide a counterbalance to the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli Channel 10 television said that one of the plans involves the immediate approval for construction of 1,500 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement, to the north of Jerusalem. In addition, current owners of apartments in Ramat Shlomo would be allowed to expand their homes with another room to the size of 50 square-meters.

The Ramat Shlomo plan gained publicity when the Jerusalem’s District Planning and Building Committee discussed it in March 2010 during the visit to Israel of US Vice President Joe Biden. The US Administration has demanded at the time that Israel reverse the housing plan. The report said that during talks with Sa’ar, approval was also received for the establishment of a visitor’s center near the City of David National Park in the East Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Silwan.

According to the report, Netanyahu said plans would also be advanced for the previously-halted construction of a national park on the slopes of Mount Scopus (Jabal Al-Masharif), which would block the expansion of Arab neighborhoods in the area.