Palestinians on Tuesday attacked Israeli plans to issue tenders for 1,213 housing units in Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhoods and 72 in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. This includes 607 in Pisgat Ze’ev and 606 in Ramot, both of which are located in Jerusalem, but over the pre- 1967 line.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said, “Such organized efforts to construct more units in the illegal settlements of Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot and Ariel are a deliberate attempt to breach international law and to destroy all chances for peace.”

Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) defended the move, noting that Israel has always insisted that it has a right to build in Jerusalem, which it considers to be the country’s united eternal capital.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, claim the eastern portion of the city as the future capital of their state.

Edelstein said that in any scenario that resolves the conflict with the Palestinians, these two neighborhoods will remain part of Israel.

A senior Israeli official said that the tenders were simply the execution of a government decision from November and December of last year to build more in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The government made that decision in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid to become the 195th member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The lower echelons are simply implementing it,” he said.

Spokesmen for the Construction and Housing Ministry confirmed that information about these projects had previously been published and condemned by the international community.

They added that the housing was necessary to relieve a shortage in the city and bring down prices.

The tenders was publicized Tuesday morning by Peace Now, after the information was posted on the ministry’s website on Monday. Hagit Ofran of Peace Now confirmed that many of the tenders were indeed part of the post-UNESCO package. But she said the 607 Pisgat Ze’ev units were new.

Information regarding the pending tenders was first publicized a few weeks ago in the media, including The Jerusalem Post.

But Ashrawi said that the announcement of the building “sends a clear message to both the international community and to the Palestinians that Israel is more committed to annexing Palestinian land than committing to any peace resolution with the Palestinian people.”

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