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MKs attend controversial settlement announcement
Published Thursday 26/05/2011 (updated) 27/05/2011 17:31
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Har Homa, an illegal Israeli settlement build on Bethlehem municipality land,
now also annexed to what Israel calls `Greater Jerusalem` [MaanImages]
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The speaker of Israel's parliament and two ministers attended the dedication on Wednesday of new Jewish settler homes in East Jerusalem in what an Israeli NGO called "a dangerous provocation."

Among the first of the VIPs to arrive at the site in the city's annexed eastern sector were speaker Reuven Rivlin, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan and Education Minister Gideon Saar, all of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.

The ceremony, in which Israel's Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also took part, came the day after Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel's claim to all Jerusalem -- half of which was occupied in 1967 and illegally annexed to Israel in the 1980s. East Jerusalem is not officially recognized as part of Israel's capital.

"I think that the prime minister expressed the consensus in Israeli society that a united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," Erdan told reporters at the settler ceremony.

The new homes are in the Jewish-only enclave of Maaleh Zeitim, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras Al-Amud, where another 50 settler apartments were completed in 2003. On the slopes of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, it is close to the center of Palestinian East Jerusalem.

Rivlin welcomed the latest completions.

"I am happy about all building in Jerusalem, which is part of the state of Israel," he told reporters.

A third phase of the development is subject to a Jerusalem magistrates court hearing set for Thursday in which a Palestinian family whose home is slated for demolition because it stands in the path of further settler building are to fight an eviction order.

Maaleh Zeitim was financed by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, according to Israeli NGO Ir Amin, which advocates equitable division of Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians.

Moskowitz has bankrolled other settlement projects in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

"The continuing settlement activity in East Jerusalem, which has gained support of government ministers and Knesset members, is a dangerous provocation that is intended to sabotage any chance of reaching a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Ir Amim said in a statement.

In an address to the US Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu rejected Palestinian claims to occupied East Jerusalem, which is hoped to be the capital of a future state.

"Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel," he said.

The international community has repeatedly called on Israel to stop new building projects in the area, which remains illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed after Netanyahu's government refused to extend a partial moratorium on settlement expansion in September 2010.

Also Wednesday, Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai was to sign an agreement with Barkat incorporating about 24 hectares (60 acres) of orchards belonging to southern Jerusalem kibbutz Ramat Rachel into the city's jurisdiction, his spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for settlement watchdog Peace Now told AFP that although a small part of the land jutted into the demilitarized zone between Israel and the West Bank it was territory which had never been under Jordanian control and was therefore not considered occupied.

"It's not a drama on the scale of Israel annexing new territory," Hagit Ofran said. "This is land which has always been considered part of Israel."
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1 ) Tobias / US
26/05/2011 13:56

UNTIL there is actually a real (NOT just claimed) Palestinian state,
arrived at through A FINAL PEACE TREATY with the Jewish state,
THIS KIND OF ISRAELI ACTION CAN, AND WILL, CONTINUE !!!

Whether Palestinian like it, or NOT, and whether the treaty's best-possible-
terms are acceptable, or again NOT, regarding land and refugees,
THAT IS THE REALITY, and it will remain so,
UNTIL A PEACE TREATY IS FINALIZED !!!!


2 ) Julie / USA
26/05/2011 15:56
israel has declared war against peace

3 ) stephy / usa
26/05/2011 16:23
I dont understand the problem here. The land was bought by someone right? Wat difference does it make if the person who owns the land is a jew or a martian? He owns it legally. he can buuild a school for one eyed chickens if he wants. Just because the palestinians "want " it for a future state, let them buy it legally from Mr. Moskowitz.

4 ) Deir Yassin / France/Palestine
26/05/2011 18:02
Stephy who pretends not to understand: Could I buy land in the States, and set up my own independent state ? Or could a Mexican citizen buy land in the States and claim it to be a part of the Mexican State ? This land belongs to the Palestinian state according to international law, and if you don't understand that, nobody here can help you.

5 ) obs / Sweden
27/05/2011 10:09
Stephy, Pals feel humilated for State Israel treats them as children regardless what they do.Beside they are upset for future State means all investors will remain without real estates and for Jews they cost fortunes.Pals have bad consciouse instead State Israel has it.
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