Ban Ki-Moon 311 Reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday condemned Israeli plans to build more than 2,500 apartments in the new Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, over the 1967 Green Line as "unacceptable."
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"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at continued efforts to advance planning for new Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem," Ban's press office said in a statement.
"Recent developments in this regard have been unacceptable, particularly as efforts are ongoing to resume (Israeli-Palestinian) negotiations, and run contrary to the Quartet's call on the parties to refrain from provocations," it said.
"The Secretary-General reiterates that settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the remainder of the West Bank is contrary to international law," the UN statement said, adding such activity "must cease."
Earlier on Friday, the Palestinian Authority also slammed the decision
plan to build 2,610 housing units ... between Bethlehem and Jerusalem,
makes a mockery of ... efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace,"
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
plan passed an important step in the approval process this week, in
what activists are calling the most dramatic change in Jewish
construction over the 1967 Green Line since the construction of Har Homa
in late 1990s. The news of the major housing project, which will create
a completely separate neighborhood between Beit Safafa and Har Homa,
was largely ignored in the news of the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap deal
activists and politicians slammed the plan for a new neighborhood in
east Jerusalem. “I think that this is a decisive massacre of the option
of returning to negotiations with Palestinians,” said City Councilor
Meir Margalit (Meretz), who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio. “Givat
Hamatos is different from other neighborhoods. Construction in
neighborhoods already built doesn’t scare me, but this is only on paper
and this is a totally new settlement,” he said.
plan for a new neighborhood at Givat Hamatos has been in the works for
years. The general construction plan for Givat Hamatos with 2,610
housing units was approved in September. At least some of the housing
units will be reserved for an Arab extension of Beit Safafa.
However, the project’s approval in September did not raise any red flags
since the land for the project has many different owners, including the
Spanish government and the Latin Patriarch, said Margalit. Determining
and reorganizing the ownership for building purposes is a complicated
legal process called “reparcelization” that can take years, leading
activists and politicians to focus their energies elsewhere.
The reparcelization plan was deposited for public review on Tuesday,
which began a 60-day period for review during which the public can file
oppositions to the project. With the deposit, the project is close to
the end of the complicated approval process, and construction could
begin as early as a year and a half from now.
Two weeks ago, the Quartet strongly denounced
expansion plans for 1,100 new units in the Gilo neighborhood, which is
also located across the Green Line. Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran, who heads
the Settlement Watch Team, called the Givat Hamatos plan “much more
dramatic.” “It’s three times the size, and it’s a whole new neighborhood
and a new footprint,” she said.