Palestinians warn of `explosion` over Jerusalem settler homes

JerusalemAn Israeli plan to build more than 1,000 new homes for settlers in annexed east Jerusalem is likely to cause an "explosion" of violence, a senior Palestinian official warned Monday.

"Such unilateral acts will lead to an explosion," Jibril Rajoub told reporters at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Rajoub, a senior figure in the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said such a move would further inflame tensions in east Jerusalem, a sector which has seen almost daily clashes for the past four months.

An official at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s bureau earlier confirmed plans for around 1,000 new homes in Har Homa and Ramat Shlomo, two Jewish settlement neighbourhoods in mainly Arab east Jerusalem.

Abbas`s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina slammed the move as a "dangerous escalation" which had the potential to create an "earthquake" in the region.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the new construction would push the Palestinian leadership to "speed up" plans to approach the UN Security Council and to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Everything Netanyahu`s government is doing are war crimes which must be tried according to international law," he told AFP, calling on Washington to "rethink its biased position" towards Israel.

He also urged the US administration "not to oppose" Palestinians plans to submit a resolution to the Security Council calling for an end to the Israeli occupation within two years.

Should the initiative be thwarted by a likely US veto, the Palestinians have pledged to join the ICC where they could sue Israeli officials for war crimes - a move which Rajoub said could come "within a matter of weeks."

"We will not give in to any pressure -- neither American pressure nor to Mr Netanyahu`s threats. We will go to the ICC. We have already made our mind up," Rajoub said.

"If hope is diminishing of coming up with a (Security Council) resolution, then we have no other choice."

He said it would be a mistake to expect the Palestinians to simply ignore Israel`s actions in east Jerusalem.

"Mr Netanyahu should not expect a white flag from the Palestinian people," he said. 

Israel seized east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

The Jewish state, regarding Jerusalem as its undivided capital, does not view construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.

But such moves infuriate the Palestinians who want east Jerusalem as capital of their future state.

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