Clinton: Gilo construction counter-productive to peace

International condemnation grows as Ashton demands Israel reverse J'lem construction plans; Hague: Parties must resist provocative action.

Clinton Blasts Gadaffi 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Clinton Blasts Gadaffi 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Interior Ministry Committee decision to initially approve a new project with 1,100 housing units in the south Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is counter-productive to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
"We believe that this morning's announcement by the government of Israel approving the construction of (1,100) housing units in east Jerusalem is counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," Clinton told reporters at a news conference. "As you know, we have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including, and perhaps most particularly, in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as provocative by either side," she added.
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EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the move.
Ashton urged Israel to "reverse" its decision to build 1,100 new housing units in Gilo, saying that "settlement activity" threatens the viability of a two-state solution.
Both Ashton and Hague slammed Israel for seemingly ignoring the Quartet of Middle East mediators, which called last week for a resumption of peace talks and for both Israelis and Palestinians to resist "provocative actions."
This new housing plan, Hague said, was just the kind of "provocative" move to be avoided.
"I condemn today’s news that the Government of Israel is advancing plans for 780 new settlement housing units, with an option of an additional 600 units in the east Jerusalem settlement of Mordot Gilo," the British foreign secretary said, adding "This is a time when all parties should be striving to return to talks and responding to the Quartet statement call to refrain from provocative actions.
"Settlement expansion is illegal under international law, corrodes trust and undermines the basic principle of land for peace," Hague said, calling on Israel to "revoke this decision."
An Interior Ministry Committee gave initial approval to a new project with 1,100 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which is located over the 1967 Green Line. The project, called the Southern Slopes of Gilo, raised strong condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, just days after the Palestinian bid for statehood drew the world’s attention to the region last week.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Radina told Ma'an News Agency that the move was a unilateral effort on the part of the Israeli government to undermine Palestinian efforts to create a state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The PA Prime Minister's Office also released a statement on the matter, criticizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "creating pre-conditions on the ground," despite Netanyahu's call for renewed peace talks without pre-conditions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the Gilo project “nothing new” in an interview with the Jerusalem Post this week. “We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for 44 years, since the end of the 1967 war,” he said.