Israel rejects criticism of east Jerusalem settlements
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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 23:57
Jerusalem: Israel on Tuesday rejected calls from the United States, the European Union and Russia to freeze settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

"Israel acts and will act in line with its national interests and in particular for anything affecting Jerusalem. Our rights in Jerusalem, including its development, cannot be challenged," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a statement.

Eli Yishai, interior minister and deputy prime minister, said: "Israel is not a subsidiary of any other country in the world. The government and the state of Israel have the right to build anywhere in Israel when such projects have obtained all legal approvals."

Earlier today, the European Union and Russia warned Israel not to violate Middle East peace plans by expanding settlements in east Jerusalem.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also repeated "the need for a complete freeze" of settlement activity after talks with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, while Israel's ambassador to Paris was summoned by the foreign ministry.

The warnings come after it emerged that planning authorities had given the green light to a project to build 20 new apartments on the site of a former hotel in the Arab sector of the Holy City.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 23:57

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