Israel approves 243 new homes in East Jerusalem
Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of 243 new homes on West Bank land that was annexed to Jerusalem, and advanced plans for another 270 homes in the same area, officials said on Thursday.
Jerusalem's municipal planning committee authorized 243 new housing units in Ramot, a municipal spokeswoman said. It also approved changes to pre-existing plans for 270 homes there and in Har Homa. Israel describes both settlements as Jerusalem "neighborhoods".
Such moves run counter to calls by the United States and other world powers for Israel to freeze construction of new settler homes. The land in question was captured in the 1967 Six Day War, and was officially included as part of the unified capital.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They fear Israeli settlement blocs will deny them contiguous territory.
Citing biblical links, Israel says Jews have a right to live anywhere in Jerusalem including the eastern sector which it has annexed as part of its "indivisible" capital. US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have boiled over in recent months with frequent clashes between security forces and stone-throwing protesters, and a series of deadly "lone wolf" attacks on Israeli civilians.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisted last month that Israel would never consider the building of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem as "settlement activity". YnetNews