Netanyahu: Israel will build in all of Jerusalem
Palestinian president sends urgent letter asking Americans to intervene in what he termed as 'Israeli escalation in East Jerusalem'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday to keep building in all of Jerusalem, hours of after his government unveiled a plan to build 1,000 housing units in the eastern part of the city which the Palestinians demand for their future state.
Speaking to parliament, Netanyahu defended the stance saying there was a wide consensus in Israel to continue building throughout the city, just as every Israeli government has done since Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967.
“Even the Palestinians know that these places will stay in Israeli sovereignty under any agreement,” he said. “The French build in Paris, the English build in London and the Israelis build in Jerusalem. To come and tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem - why?”
East Jerusalem is home to the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. Israel says the whole city will forever be its capital, citing historical, religious and security reasons. The international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israel’s annexation of the eastern sector of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians seek it as their future capital and oppose any Israeli construction there.
In a bid to bolster claims in Jerusalem, the Palestinian prime minister paid a rare visit to the Dome of the Rock Monday. At the shrine on a hilltop compound revered by both Jews and Muslims, Rami Hamdallah declared that “there will not be a Palestinian state without east Jerusalem as its capital.”
The visit was coordinated with Israeli security and passed without incident.
In response to Israel's new construction plan, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Saeb Erekat said the move was illegal and “amounts to evidence of an intent to further commit crimes defined by and punishable under international law.”
“This settlement expansion coincides with proposed Israeli legislation to change the status quo over the al-Aqsa compound and the seizure of 35 Palestinian homes in Silwan by state-supported extremist settlers. The announcement by Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, who is already a settler, of his intent to occupy a seized Palestinian home in Silwan is just another shocking reminder of Israel’s accelerating efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn the Holy City of three faiths into an exclusive Jewish city,” the statement said.
Erekat said the world “must take decisive action in order to save the two-state solution from the colonial expansionism of the State of Israel, including by recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border, by supporting our Security Council efforts to put a deadline to end the Israeli occupation, by banning all settlement products and by divesting from all organizations and companies linked directly or indirectly to the Israeli occupation, colonization and Apartheid policies.”
Abbas demands U.S. intervention
In an urgent letter sent to Washington on Sunday night, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Americans to intervene in what he termed as “Israeli escalation in East Jerusalem.”
Abbas warned that if Israel continued with its current measures, including proposals that would allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount compound, it would lead to an eruption of violence that would spiral out of control.
The president blames the Israeli government for recent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters in East Jerusalem.
Clashes in Jerusalem continued on Sunday, as hundreds of Palestinians attended a symbolic funeral march in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Palestinian authorities have asked the U.N. Human Rights Council to appoint an impartial inquiry commission to investigate the death of eight Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2014.
The most recent death was that of a Palestinian-American teen Orwah Hammad from the village of Silwad who was shot and killed on Friday after being involved in a riot.
"We call on the U.N., the European Union and the United States to take immediate punitive actions so that Israel bears responsibility for the use of live weapons and the killing of Palestinian citizens," PLO member Hanan Ashrawi said.
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