Israel approves 78 new settlements in East Jerusalem
A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas said the annoucement is a continuation of the Israeli government’s policy to cause more tension
Israel on Wednesday approved the construction of 78 new homes in two settlements on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem, according to Reuters news agency.
Jerusalem’s municipal planning committee authorised 50 new housing units in Har Homa and 28 in Ramot, a municipal spokeswoman said.
Israel describes those two urban settlements as Jerusalem neighbourhoods.
Commenting on the announcement, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: "These decisions are a continuation of the Israeli government’s policy to cause more tension, push towards further escalation and waste any chance to create an atmosphere for calm."
The announcement is likely to aggravate Palestinian anger at a time when violence has flared.
Jerusalem has seen unrest in the past few weeks over access to the city’s most sacred and politically sensitive site, holy to both Jews and Muslims.
The Palestinians have also been angered by a recent slew of plans Israel has advanced for about 4,000 housing units on West Bank land annexed to the city.
Israel’s settlement activities have drawn criticism from the European Union and from the United States.
Israel, citing Biblical links to Jerusalem, says Jews have a right to live anywhere in the city. It regards Jerusalem, including parts of the city captured in 1967, as its "indivisible" capital. U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War. They fear the Israeli enclaves will deny them contiguous territory.