Palestinians to object at UN over escalation in settlement building

Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 00:00

The Palestinians will file a complaint at the United Nations Security Council against Israeli plans to press ahead with massive construction in areas of east Jerusalem captured during the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli war.

The four European nations in the 15-member council – Britain, France, Germany and Portugal – are expected to condemn Israel over its plans.

On Monday, planning permission was granted for 1,500 homes for ultra-Orthodox Jews in the neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo. Over the next few days it is expected that the green light will be given for 4,500 additional units in two areas in southern Jerusalem, Givat Hamatos and Gilo, effectively blocking off Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

Collectively, the permission marks one of the most significant construction surges since Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.

Israel includes these occupied lands within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, whereas Palestinians view them as settlements, blocking attempts to ensure that east Jerusalem will become capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said PA status as a non-member UN state would be used to press the Security Council to stop the building.

“The Palestinian leadership will take important and necessary steps against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the occupied territories in Jerusalem,” he said.

The building surge would further isolate Israel after the world recognised the Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders, he added.

Following last month’s UN vote upgrading Palestinian status, the Israeli government announced that 3,000 homes for settlers would be built in the West Bank, including in the controversial E-1 corridor linking Jerusalem to the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

“What we have this week is a blitz of construction plans, promoted by the government,” said Aviv Tatarsky, head of Ir Amim, an NGO that focuses on Jerusalem issues. “More massive construction, of course, makes dividing the city and reaching ... agreement with the Palestinians more complex and difficult.”

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed that building would continue. “I call on all Zionist parties in Israel, let no political interest overshadow the national agreement on Jerusalem’s unity.”

Israeli vice-prime minister Moshe Ya’alon said construction was a response to the unilateral approach to the UN by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.