Israel moves to build settlements in east Jerusalem
Israel is pushing ahead with a long-delayed plan to build hundreds of apartments in east Jerusalem, staking claims to land the Palestinians want for a future state and complicating already tense relations with the US over its demand for a construction moratorium.
The government has chosen developers to build 486 new apartments in the Pisgat Zeev neighbourhood after a yearlong delay over pricing disputes, the state-run land agency said Tuesday.
The announcement came just days after Israel approved up to 455 apartments in the West Bank. Construction plans are continuing even as Israel negotiates with the US on its demand for a total building freeze in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The new buildings are to go up on the outer edge of Jerusalem's northeastern boundary and would narrow the distance between Pisgat Zeev and nearby Palestinian communities.
Jerusalem, with its sites holy to both Jews and Muslims, lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured the eastern sector of the city from Jordan in 1967 and immediately annexed it. The international community does not recognise the annexation or Israel's argument that Jewish neighbourhoods there are not settlements.