Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The Labor party will leave the governing coalition, creating a government crisis if, the decision to build 1600new settlements in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1968, goes ahead.
Shalom Simhon, Agriculture Minister in the government of Netanyahu and Labor party member, said today that members of his party "have increasing difficulties in taking part in the coalition government" of which they are part "with regard to the relaunch of the peace process with the Palestinians".
The Ministry of the Interior has approved the construction of 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, in the Arab area of Jerusalem. The decision coincides with the visit to Israel of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, who is trying to revive the peace process. The new draft settlement poses new obstacles to dialogue with the Palestinians, who want a freeze on Jewish settlements in the occupied territories as a condition for the resumption of dialogue.
The settlements in occupied territory are illegal under international rules. Their growth in East Jerusalem threatens to remove forever the possibility that it may one day become the capital of a Palestinian state.
According to the newspaper Haaretz, in the coming years the government has planned to build 50 thousand new homes in East Jerusalem and nearby areas. The Israeli Ministry of Interior has justified its plans saying that the development of Jewish Jerusalem can only be to the east, in the Palestinian Area, because the projects in the west have been blocked by environmental groups.