Israel continues settlement expansion in east Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Dec. 24 (Xinhua-ANI): The Jerusalem Planning and Construction Municipal Committee approved on Monday evening the construction of 1,242 housing units in Gilo, East Jerusalem, local media reported.

The residential compound construction plan was originally authorized by the committee in September 2011 and was frozen due to wide condemnation from the international community.

The plan was put back on track following the successful bid of the Palestinian Authority to upgrade its status as a non-member observer state at the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 29.

This is the third construction plan announced in different areas in east Jerusalem this week on the lands Israel annexed during the 1967 Middle East war.

Last week, the construction of 2,126 new housing units were approved in Givat Hamatos, a neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem, which would disconnect the Arab neighborhood of Beit Zfafa from surrounding Palestinian villages in the West Bank.

Several days earlier, 1,500 housing units were authorized for construction in Ramat Shlomo. In addition, Israel's Ministry of Housing and Construction issued tenders for construction of new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are part of the construction of 3,000 homes approved just 24 hours after the Nov. 29 UN vote.

The recent construction plans in the settlements were condemned by the international community and affected Israel's relations with many countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Russia and Australia.

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have expressed condemnations and concerns that the settlement expansion blocks the way of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians halted in 2010 due to Israel's continuing settlement expansion in the West Bank. (Xinhua-ANI)

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