JERUSALEM (Agencies-10/3/2008) – Israel announced plans Sunday (9/3/2008) to build hundreds of homes in the West Bank and disputed east Jerusalem.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the new plans further undermine talks between Israel and the West Bank administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Why do they insist on doing this and humiliating Abu Mazen in front of the Palestinian public," he said, using Abbas’ nickname.
Israeli Housing Minister Zeev Boim said the construction would include 350 apartments in Givat Zeev, a West Bank settlement just outside of Jerusalem, and 750 homes in Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
Israel captured and annexed east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war but Palestinians claim it as their capital and the annexation is not recognized internationally.
Erekat said he has appealed to the U.S. to pressure Israel to halt the projects. Palestinians charge that Israeli settlement expansion is sabotaging their efforts to build a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Most of the 270,000 West Bank settlers live in the major blocs, and an additional 180,000 Israelis live in Jewish neighborhoods Israel built in east Jerusalem after 1967. Israel does not consider the east Jerusalem neighborhoods to be settlements, but the Palestinians and international community do.