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Israel plans 20,000 Jewish homes in East Jerusalem PDF Print E-mail
May 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM

By Avida Landau
Reuters May 10, 2007

Jerusalem - Israel plans to build 20,000 new homes for Jews in a settlement in Arab East Jerusalem, angering Palestinians who want the land for a future state.

An Israeli official said on Thursday that the plan forsees three separate Jewish neighbourhoods being set up on land Israel annexed after the 1967 Middle East War in a move that has not been recognised internationally.

Some 200,000 Jews already live in the eastern part of Jerusalem among about
230,000 Palestinians who, under an agreement forged after Israel's capture of the city, are legal residents.

Yehoshua Pollak, a deputy mayor and chairman of the Jerusalem municipality's planning and construction committee, said the proposed units would provide housing mostly for young Israeli couples.

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the plan, saying: "This destroys the efforts exerted to revive the peace process. The Israeli government must choose between settlements and peace. They can not have both."

Pollak said the project still needed to be ratified by other municipal committees, which could take several years.

The construction of the homes would create a Jewish residential bloc linking Jerusalem with two major Jewish settlement blocs north and south of the city.

The Jerusalem municipality several months ago scrapped a similar plan to construct 20,000 homes on hills in the western part of Jerusalem following opposition by environmentalists.

"After (that) plan was scrapped, the city had to look for other alternatives to provide housing for its growing population," Pollak said.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Despite plans to remove unauthorised Jewish outposts in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israeli construction in the territory is aimed at accommodating the "natural growth" of populations within the settlements.

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