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Israel approves 900 homes in East Jerusalem settlement
Published Thursday 04/08/2011 (updated) 06/08/2011 10:36
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Israeli soldiers fire tear gas last Friday at Palestinians protesting against
West Bank settlement expansion. [AFP/File Abbas Momani]
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's interior ministry has given final approval for the construction of 900 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Har Homa, a ministry spokeswoman told AFP on Thursday.

"This is a programme which was approved by the regional (planning and construction) committee two years ago," spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said.

"According to the planning process in Israel, (it) needed the completion of amendments, therefore it was finally approved today."

The approval marks the final planning stage for a project that has garnered fierce criticism from the Palestinians and the international community.

It will significantly expand the hilltop neighborhood, which lies in Jerusalem's southwest and is defined as being within the municipal boundaries despite lying directly next to the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Har Homa is known as Abu Ghnaim to Palestinians and used to be a lush forested area in northern Bethlehem before being destroyed to make space for the illegal settlement.

Hagit Ofran, who monitors settlement activity for the Israeli group Peace Now, described the final approval of the project as "a very dramatic development" because of where the new housing will be located.

"It adds a new ridge to Har Homa which blocks the territorial contiguity between east Jerusalem and Bethlehem and adds a further barrier to the possibility of east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital in a two-state solution," she told AFP.

Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.

Israel does not view construction in the east to be settlement activity, calling both east and west Jerusalem its "eternal, indivisible" capital, and some 200,000 Israelis now live in east Jerusalem amid nearly 270,000 Palestinians.

But the Palestinians view settlement construction in Arab east Jerusalem as an Israeli attempt to extend control over the sector of the city that they want for the capital of their future state.

The international community, including the United States, has regularly criticized Israel for building settlements in the West Bank and particularly east Jerusalem, describing them as counterproductive and calling for a halt to all such construction.

Israel's settlement construction has also snarled peace talks, which were restarted in September 2010 but ground to a halt shortly after they began when a partial Israeli ban on settlement building expired.

Israel declined to renew the freeze, which covered the West Bank but not east Jerusalem, and the Palestinians say they will not negotiate while Israel builds on land they want for their future state.

More than 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and another 200,000 live in settlements in east Jerusalem, which is also home to some 270,000 Palestinians.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since 1967.

Ma'an staff writers contributed to this report
1 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
04/08/2011 21:16
So what else is new ???

2 ) Michael / USA
04/08/2011 21:44
I told ya so!! Jerusalem will be a very sensitive issue in the last days. Bible is absolutely correct-- "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem." --Zechariah 12:2 Re-read the WORD OF GOD again. "People round about" means Arab neighbors of Israel. This is an end-time prophecy. This was written many centuries ago before both Islam and American revolution were ever born.

3 ) Asher / Israel
04/08/2011 22:18
When will people learn that this "Green Line" was an armistice line between Jordan and Israel. It was never considered a border of any kind. Thus making the term "occupied" null and void. Jordan gave up all territorial rights to the West Bank. So the term "disputed territory" should be applied. And why are neighborhoods in North Jerusalem (i.e. Pisgat Ze'ev) and South Jerusalem (Gilo, Har Homa) considered to be in East Jerusalem?

4 ) Maureen / Australia
04/08/2011 23:14
The photo says it all. Selfish, greedy Zionazi thieves!

5 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
05/08/2011 03:53
Asher / Israel, you are right. The Green Line is a fantasy. Since Israel merely steals land without declaring borders, the right thing to do is to call the entire area Palestine, with the Jews understood as the guests of the Palestinians, and the Palestinians in charge. With Jews in charge, it's been a continual bloodbath.

6 ) Mira / Israel
05/08/2011 05:27
Let the Zionists, please. They are building houses for the Palestinian refug?es, who will come home soon. Palestine forever!

7 ) Niva dos Santos / Brazil
05/08/2011 08:13
We can not make peace with the enemy cos' enemies don't want peace. Enemy you must fight till beat it! Zionazi just understand the language of war! Give them what they deserves!!

8 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
05/08/2011 12:30
Har Homa is NOT an "East Jerusalem settlement", but a part of the occupied district of Bethlehem. In other words, it is a settlement that is illegal under international law, no matter how much the state of Israel chooses to disregard this reality.

9 ) mohamed / somalia
05/08/2011 16:48
problem big problem

10 ) Wissam / Palestine
05/08/2011 17:26
It's funny how most people here forget that Tel Aviv was once a settlement! All Zionist towns since 1900 are just that, colonies implanted in an Arab region. Wake up fellow Palestinians, Jerrold Cohen is right. It's time for an Arab State of Palestine from River to Sea, naturally belonging to this region, with equal rights to all and 3 official languages.

11 ) John / USA
06/08/2011 05:22
OK, im glad you took it off...hahaha

12 ) ian / australia
07/08/2011 00:48
Asher/Israel (3) With all respect...what a lot of illogical, self-serving piffle! Just how exactly does the Green Line being an armistice (ceasefire) line mean that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not "occupied"? And how does Jordan withdrawing its claim legitimise Israel's holding onto territories seized by war, clearly inadmissable under international law? And just why does redefining territories "disputed" rather than "occupied" make it OK to build there?

13 ) ian / australia
07/08/2011 00:51
Asher / Israel (3)...and believe me Asher, only in Israel is there any confusion about where Pisgat Ze'ev, Gilo and Har Homa are!
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