Construction of new housing for Jews in east Jerusalem will press forward, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser illustrated in a statement on Monday. This drew Palestinian accusations that the plans could undermine newly relaunched peace talks.

"Building is expected to begin soon in Har Homa ... and Neve Yaakov, where (construction) bids have been issued," Hauser told Army Radio, referring to two east Jerusalem neighborhoods. "Building in Jerusalem is continuing according to its regular pace."


Despite Hauser's claim, Israeli construction in east Jerusalem has been held back, though not halted, since the dispute over Ramat Shlomo erupted in March. Israel has not approved any new housing plans, but construction on hundreds of apartments that were previously approved has proceeded.

Nonetheless, Palestinians said the project violated the terms of the new peace talks, in which Israel has promised not to take any provocative actions. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would address his concerns with the Americans.

"The Americans said some words to us, and they said some words to the Israelis, and now it's up to the US administration to answer such things," Abbas told reporters.

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Erekat: Building complicates talks

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Israeli position undermined trust-building as the US tries to get the indirect negotiations, or proximity talks, moving.

"The whole concept of proximity talks is to give Senator George Mitchell and US President Barack Obama the chance they deserve," Erekat said. "If they begin doing this (building), I think they will take down the proximity talks."

Meridor: Israel won't accept 'discriminatory' policy

Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor said Israel could not accept a "discriminatory" policy that barred Jews from living in certain parts of the city. But he said "the policy of the government will try to be wise."

Meridor said any future arrangement in Jerusalem would guarantee free access for all religions to worship. But he added: "To take the Old City and cut it to pieces I think is not only not right but not realistic."

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