08/12/2011, 00.00
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Go-ahead for thousands of new homes for Israeli settlers in the occupied territories

Eli Yshav, the interior minister, has given the go-ahead to 1600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem, and the permission for another 2700 is expected early next week. Palestinian anger, U.S. response weak.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Eli Yshav, the Israeli Interior Minister, yesterday gave final approval to a project for 1600 new housing units for settlers in occupied East Jerusalem. The news was announced by the ministry spokesman, Roi Lachmanovic. At the beginning of next week, the ministry will give permission for another 2700 houses, again in areas occupied by Israel. The decision comes only weeks before the Palestinian Authority asks the United Nations for recognition of a Palestinian state, at a time when direct talks between the two sides are stalled.

Yshav, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, "has given approval to 1600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, and will approve a further 2000 at Givat Hamatos and 700 at Pisgat Zeev " said Roi Lachmanovic, who added that the reasons are " economic, not political, "referring to the events of recent days in Israel against the high cost of houses and the high cost of living.

Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian negotiator, criticized the government's choice: "We strongly condemn this new Israeli decision." Erekat urged the United States "to reconsider their position of rejecting the move for recognition of a Palestinian State at the UN. We ask President Obama to support this initiative, because it is the only way to preserve the two-state solution. " The settlements are considered illegal under international law. Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and annexed east Jerusalem, a move not recognized by the international community.

The White House and State Department have expressed a mild rebuke by saying that "our position has not changed, and we urge the parties not to take actions that make it more difficult to meet and negotiate," said presidential spokesman Jay Carney. Only last week the Minister of Interior approved the construction of 900 new homes in the Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. (05.08.2011 11:38 900 more homes for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem).
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