Israel pushes on with settlement plans on annexed land
By Maayan Lubell | Reuters – Mon, Jul 4, 2011
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel's Jerusalem municipality approved a plan on Monday to build hundreds of new homes for Jews on annexed land in the occupied West Bank, a council member said.
Elisha Peleg told Reuters that Jerusalem city planning commission had approved building plans for 900 new units in Gilo, an urban settlement built on land Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem.
About 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among 2.7 million Palestinians. The World Court has ruled Israeli settlements in occupied territory illegal. Palestinians say the enclaves could deny them a viable state.
"I see no difference between Gilo and any other neighbourhood in Jerusalem. There is no planning or political problem with this and Jews have the right to build anywhere in the city," said Peleg, a member of the planning commission.
Proposals would still need to be approved by Israel's Interior Ministry and construction would most likely start in Gilo, home to some 40,000 Israelis, within a year or two, Peleg said.
In 2009 the building project, then at an early planning stage, drew criticism from U.S. President Barack Obama who said it would harm prospects for peace. U.S.–brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since last year.
(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Andrew Roche)
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