JERUSALEM: Israel granted final approval Wednesday for plans to build another 186 new homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, a city councilor told AFP.
Yosef Pepe Alalu said the city’s local planning council had granted “final approval” to plans to build 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa.
Both are settlement neighborhoods built on territory seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.
The decision comes as U.S.-led peace talks teeter on the brink of collapse ahead of an April 29 deadline, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the sides to agree to a framework proposal to extend the negotiations to the year’s end.
So far, the Palestinians have flatly refused to countenance any extension, partly due to Israel’s ongoing settlement construction which has shown no let-up since talks began in late July 2013.
Lior Amihai, a spokesperson for the settlement watchdog Peace Now, said “this is a sad decision by the Jerusalem municipality, with the government’s approval, to advance the construction of 186 new homes in east Jerusalem as the international community it trying to keep the negotiations alive.”