US: Building is contrary to efforts to resume negotiations

Authorities announce plans for 4,000 units, 240 beyond Green Line; Erekat: "We strongly condemn the decision."

311_Beitar Illit (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Beitar Illit
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The US expressed disappointment Friday at the 240 new housing units reportedly approved in Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev.
“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.
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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 successful negotiations.
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."