U.S. condemns Israeli plan for new construction beyond Green Line

EU, Palestinians also denounce Israel’s plan for 1,100 new homes in Jerusalem’s contested Gilo neighborhood

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By Natasha Mozgovaya and Nir Hasson
Haaretz

The U.S. condemned Tuesday Israel’s plan to build 1,100 new housing units in Jerusalem’s contested Gilo neighborhood, which lies beyond the Green Line.

“These kinds of actions are counterproductive to the resumption of direct negotiations,” a State Department official said.

“Our position has not changed: Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel’s future itself,” the U.S. official said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also expressed disappointment with Israel’s new plan to build homes in Gilo, saying they “should be reversed” since it undermines peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Ashton told the EU parliament that she heard “with deep regret” that Israeli plans to build homes beyond the Green Line were continuing.

Speaking in Strasbourg, France, Ashton said the expansion of settlements “threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution” between the two sides, as backed by the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

The Palestinians also condemned Israel’s construction plans in Gilo.

“The Israeli Prime Minister claims to have no preconditions, but with this decision is putting concrete preconditions on the ground,” the Palestinian Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“[Netanyahu] says there should be no unilateral steps, but there could be nothing more unilateral than a huge new round of settlement building on Palestinian land. The Israeli Prime Minister told the UN that he had come to tell the truth, but it is this decision which tells the truth.”

In New York on Monday, a divided UN Security Council met behind closed doors for its first discussion of last week’s Palestinian application for full UN membership as a state.

The move seems certain to fail due to Israeli and U.S. opposition, despite substantial support by other governments.

A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was up to the Security Council to put a stop to Israel’s settlement policy “which is destroying the two-state solution and putting more obstacles in front of any effort to bring about a resumption of negotiations”.

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