(photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinians reacted negatively to the Housing Ministry's announcement to build 240 housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot and accused Israel of attempting "to kill" any chance to reignite peace negotiations, AFP reported on Friday.
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"We strongly condemn the decision," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP. "We call upon the US administration to hold the Israeli government responsible for the collapse of the negotiations and the peace process as a result of this government's insistence on killing every opportunity for resuming negotiations," Erekat said. The building decision was "a clear answer to all international efforts, particularly US efforts to resume negotiations."
Peace Now said that the newly announced plans will most likely further damage current peace negotiations. "The fact is that someone -- either the housing minister or the prime minister -- is trying to make a point: they want to make it harder on peace efforts," Peace Now's Hagit Ofran told AFP. "Such a decision is going to be a problem for the continuation of the talks and this is exactly what they were trying to achieve."
The Housing Ministry and Israel Lands Authority announced the sale of some 4,000 plots for building housing units, 240 of which are in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev located east the Green Line, Israel Radio reported Friday.
According to the report, of the 4,000 units, more than 1,100 units will be built in Netanya. Four-hundred-eighty will be built in Ashdod and 450 in Tel Aviv.
The Prime Minister's Office commented on the move stating that the decision came from Housing Minister Ariel Attias, Army Radio reported. According to the report, the PMO reiterated that there is currently no building moratorium in Jerusalem, only a delay by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to "prevent surprises by the sensitive timing, as in the past."
The US has been notified and objected the decision, but officials in Jerusalem said the protest was not active and Washington did not attempt to halt the decision in a drastic manner said the report.
Attias said that the Housing and Lands Authority
continues to operate vigorously to minimize the demand and supply in the
housing market, Israel Radio reported on Friday. The efforts have
focused on removing building obstructions in the center of the country.
Both the Palestinian Authority and the US government have in the past criticized building plans in Pisgat Ze’ev.