"We will continue to build even during negotiations" (there were supposed to be no pre-conditions, unless imposed by Israel! Ed)
Housing Minister Uri Ariel speaks to reporters at a ceremony announcing construction in east J'lem. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, of Bayit Yehudi, promised that Israel will continue to build over the Green Line, during an interview with Army Radio on Wednesday.
"We will continue to build over the Green Line, even during the negotiations," Ariel said. "Israel doesn't need any special reason to build."
The Ministry recently announced its intention topublish tenders for 1,187 new Jewish homes over the pre-1967 lines.
The move, seen as a snub to America and the upcoming peace negotiations with the Palestinians, came a day before Tuesday night's controversial release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as the first phase of a larger prisoner release that will eventually total 104.
Renewed peace talks were set to begin later on Wednesday afternoon between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that both he and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were made aware of the future construction plans by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu was completely upfront with me and with President Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building that would take place in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement," Kerry said.
Ariel added in the interview, "There is no area where we will not build, and there is no area where will allow someone to dictate to us whether or not to build."
Michael Wilner and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.