France 'deeply disappointed' by east J'lem building plans

French Foreign Ministry calls on Israel to reconsider move to sell 240 plots in Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev; says move harms chances of renewing talks.

Pisgat Zeev construction tractors 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Pisgat Zeev construction tractors 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
France expressed "deep disappointment" over Israel's decision to authorize the sale of 240 plots of land for new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev, which are east of the Green Line, AFP reported on Saturday.
The decision to approve building in the Jerusalem neighborhoods harms the chances of renewing stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and Paris hopes that Jerusalem will reconsider the move, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said.
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Valero added that not only France's foreign minister, but also his Spanish counterpart expect Israel to freeze all construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
French disappointment in the decision to approve the selling of plots in east Jerusalem echoed statements made by the US administration on Friday.
“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 of 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."