Jerusalem: Israel on Wednesday rejected global
criticism of moves to build 1,300 new homes in occupied east
Jerusalem, insisting it would never limit construction in its
"capital," the premier`s office said.
"Israel sees no connection between the peace process
and the planning and building policies in Jerusalem that have
not changed for the last 40 years," said a statement from the
office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Jerusalem is not a settlement -- Jerusalem is the
capital of the state of Israel," it said, adding that no
Israeli government had ever curbed building in the Holy City
since taking over and annexing the eastern sector during the
1967 Six Day War.
"Building in Jerusalem has never interfered with the
peace process," it said, while admitting that differences with
Washington over Jerusalem had been ongoing over the last 43
Plans to increase building in east Jerusalem were made
public yesterday as Netanyahu was on a five-day trip to the
United States to discuss a revival of moribund peace talks
with the Palestinians.
The announcement prompted a livid response from the
Palestinians, who accused Israel of a bald-faced attempt to
sabotage peace talks between the two sides, which began in
early September ran aground some three weeks later.
"Once more, at the moment that we expected Prime
Minister Netanyahu to announce a full settlement freeze ... he
has sent Palestinians and the US administration a clear
message that Israel chooses settlements, not peace," chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said today.
The world must answer Israel`s defiance by recognising
a Palestinian state, he said.
"This latest unilateral Israeli act necessitates
dramatic international action for immediate recognition of the
Palestinian state (based) on the June 4, 1967 borders," he
The Palestinians have repeatedly threatened to go to
the United Nations for recognition of a Palestinian state if
peace talks fail, but Israel has cautioned against any
unilateral moves, saying the only way to peace is through
a negotiated agreement.
The decision to build more homes in occupied an
annexed east Jerusalem sparked a sharply-worded condemnation
from global powers, with US President Barack Obama remarking:
"This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to
The Jerusalem plans were likely to play centre stage
when Netanyahu meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in
New York on Thursday, although the Israeli leader`s office
insisted he would use the meeting "to advance peace talks."