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Abbas orders UN envoy to complain to Security Council over settlements

Dec. 17, 2012 9:30 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 19, 2012 3:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed UN envoy Riyad Mansour to contact representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to stop Israeli settlement plans in East Jerusalem.

Israel on Monday approved plans to build 1,500 more Jewish settler homes in East Jerusalem on Monday, an official said, days after provoking international protests against a project for another 3,000 such homes on land in the city.

An aide to Abbas said the president was furious at the announcement and instructed Mansour to immediately contact the UN envoys of the US, UK, Russia, China and France.

Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Israel's latest expansion plans were a challenge to the international community and showed total disregard for the sentiments of the Arab world.

Abu Rudaineh told Ma'an such actions would isolate Israel internationally.

Washington had condemned the latest plans, for ultra-Orthodox neighborhood Ramat Shlomo, when they were published during a 2010 visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged last week to build at least 3,000 more settler homes on West Bank land as an expression of Israel's objections to a United Nations vote last month recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Those plans led to a string of Israeli diplomats summoned for reprimands internationally.

Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman, Efrat Orbach, said on Monday a district planning commission "gave preliminary approval for" the Ramat Shlomo project which must pass a series of bureaucratic decisions before construction may actually begin.

Israeli and Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since late 2010, largely due to a dispute over the settlements, which the International Court of Justice in The Hague has ruled as illegal.

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