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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


U.S. 'deeply concerned' by Israel's approval of East Jerusalem construction plans

Foreign Ministry source: U.S. Embassy in Israel contacted Prime Minister's Bureau, Foreign Ministry to stress the seriousness of the American concern regarding the negative implications of the decision.

By Barak Ravid

10 August 2011

The United States said Tuesday it is "deeply concerned" by Israel's approval of new housing in East Jerusalem. In its condemnation of Israel's action, the U.S. is joining the EU, the UN, Russia and Turkey, who made similar statements in recent days.

A Foreign Ministry source in Jerusalem said that the U.S. Embassy in Israel contacted the Prime Minister's Bureau and the Foreign Ministry and stressed the seriousness of the American concern regarding the negative implications of the decision, which may make it impossible to block unilateral Palestinian efforts for recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September.

East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof - Tomer Neuberg

The east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof.

Photo by: Tomer Neuberg

The State Department said in a statement that such "unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direct negotiations and contradict the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties."

The State Department also said it raised its objections with the Israeli government.

Alongside its rare rebuke of a close ally, Washington said Israelis and Palestinians should settle their differences on Jerusalem through negotiation, adding that the United States "will continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues in the context of a peace agreement."

Before Tuesday's statement, the U.S. had been mostly silent on East Jerusalem construction over the last few months, which had seemingly become peripheral to U.S. concerns. The subject had been nearly completely absent from talks between the White House and the Prime Minister's Bureau.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai approved the construction of more than 900 housing units in Har Homa last Thursday, confirming a plan that was approved two years ago by the District Planning Committee, and only now is in the process being finalized.

The decision will free the Housing and Construction Ministry to begin marketing land to developers for construction.

Four days earlier, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned Israel's approval of the new housing units.

"The European Union has repeatedly urged the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. All settlement activities are illegal under international law," Ashton was quoted as saying in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's forum of eight ministers will meet Wednesday to discuss political assessments on the UN vote for recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in September. Netanyahu has stepped up the rate at which deliberations are held and they are expected to continue at least once a week until September.

During the discussions, Israeli responses will be considered as well as the possibility that there may be a violent confrontation in the West Bank the day after the UN vote.

This follows a statement by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Sunday charging that the Palestinian Authority is planning "unprecedented bloodletting" for September and claimed that he will demand from the Netanyahu and forum that Israel should cut off all contacts with the Palestinians, including security coordination.

For their part, other ministers in the senior forum, including Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon, believe that the Palestinians have no intention of violence following the UN vote.


Erekat: Israel expansion in East Jerusalem 'entrenches occupation'

Top PA negotiator condemns Israel's decision to build 900 new homes in Har Homa, says illegal, goes against International Law and International Humanitarian Law.

By Akiva Eldar

5 August 2011

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned on Friday Israel's recent decision to expand the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, saying Netanyahu's government is "determined to invest solely in the entrenchment of the occupation, rather than peace."

Erekat called Israel's approval of the construction of 900 new homes illegal, saying that by going ahead with its plan to build "Israel makes clear its intention to turn this occupation into an effective annexation.”

Saeb Erekat - 6.7.11

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat

Photo by: Natasha Mozgovaya

The Palestinian negotiator went on to say that all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories go against both International Law and International Humanitarian Law, adding that continued expansion is "a flagrant violation of the International Roadmap, which was consecrated in UN Security Council resolution 1515."

Erekat slammed Israel for its "disrespect and disdain to the international community," who has called on Israel to cease settlement building. He accused Israel of intentionally sabotaging international efforts to reach a negotiated two-state solution.

He then said there is an international consensus that the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to end the Israeli occupation by creating a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“Israel is armed with the impunity brought on by decades of international leniency and lack of consequences to its illegal actions. It is now the responsibility of the international community to make clear that it will no longer tolerate this impunity and destructive consequences," Erekat said.

The Palestinian negotiator implored the international community to protect the two-state solution and fight Israel's "expansionist agenda" by investing in peace. He called on world leaders to support the Palestinians' bid for recognition and admission at the United Nations in September, saying this is the "constructive response to this destructive policy."

Erekat invited the world to "unite in consecrating the two-state solution by recognizing Palestine on the 1967 borders and admitting Palestine as a full member of the UN.”