(photo credit: Associated Press)
The US expressed disappointment Friday at the 240 new housing units reportedly approved in Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev.
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“We were disappointed by the announcement of new tenders in east Jerusalem yesterday. It is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley to assembled reporters at a weekly briefing.
Earlier on Friday, 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.
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." A strong reaction was issued by Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb
Erekat shortly after the release of the announcement. "We
strongly condemn the decision," he 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."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Friday that if Israel continues to build settlements, Arab nations might seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state without Israel's approval.
Also on Friday, Jordan's State Minister for Media Affairs and
Communications Ali Ayed issued a statement condemning building plans,
and calling on the international community to "stop Israeli
provocations" and do whatever possible to resume and see through
Petra News Agency reported Ayed as saying that Jordan supported the
goals of the Palestinians "to restore their legitimate rights and
establish their independent state on their national soil."