Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union criticized Israel’s plans to build more than 2,600 new homes in east Jerusalem, a project that Palestinians condemned.
“These initiatives run contrary to the current EU and Quartet efforts to bring about the resumption of peace negotiations,” Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said in a statement posted yesterday on her office’s website. “I deplore the decision by the Israeli authorities to advance the plan.”
The project at Givat Hamatos, north of Bethlehem, is the latest of several construction plans that Palestinians are fighting. The sites are located in parts of Jerusalem that Israel annexed after capturing them from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians consider east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state.
Palestinians condemned the Givat Hamatos project Oct. 14 after the Haaretz newspaper reported that Jerusalem municipal authorities invited public review of the plans for 60 days, a necessary step before authorizing construction. The Quartet, a diplomatic group comprising the U.S., EU, United Nations and Russia, has been trying to restart talks aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he won’t stop construction in east Jerusalem, which he maintains should be considered part of sovereign Israel, a position opposed by the U.S. and most countries. He has also refused to renew a 10- month construction freeze in the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he won’t return to negotiations with Israel unless construction in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem is halted.
--Editors: Louis Meixler, James Kraus.
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