PA: Israel settlement plans 'destructive' for peace process
Published Wednesday 30/10/2013 (updated) 31/10/2013 18:08
A housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa is
pictured in East Jerusalem. (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian presidency on Wednesday condemned an Israeli decision to build 1,500 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel's settlement policy "is destructive to the peace process and a message to the international community that Israel does not abide by international law and keeps putting obstacles in the way of the peace process," a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar on Wednesday agreed to build 1,500 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo, hours after 26 Palestinian prisoners were released from jail.
"We condemn this act and settlements are all illegal and not one settlement is going to stay on Palestinian land," Nabil Abu Rudeinah said, adding that settlement construction causes both Palestinian and Arab officials to "lose faith in this government's ability to make peace."
Last week, an Israeli official said new tenders were to be announced in the large settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem "in the coming months" as part of "understandings" reached with both the Palestinians and Washington.
Speaking before the settlement announcement, Abbas reiterated the Palestinians' denial that the prisoner release was part of an agreement to allow Israel more settlement building.
"There are some living among us who say that we have a deal (to release prisoners) in exchange for settlement building, and I say to them, be silent."
The release of the 26 prisoners was part of a four-stage deal to coincide with the PLO's return to peace negotiations in July.
A first group of 26 prisoners was freed on Aug. 13.
Israel announced plans for more than 2,000 new settler homes in tandem with the August prisoner release, causing outrage among PLO officials.
The last round of direct peace talks broke down just weeks after they were launched in September 2010 in a bitter row over settlements.