Despite worldwide calls for an end to the expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, Israel has approved the construction of more settlement units in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Israeli officials on Wednesday approved the construction of 14 new settlement units in the heart of the Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amud as part of Tel Aviv’s efforts to increase the Jewish population in the city’s eastern sector.
An Israeli opposition party said that over 100 more settlement units are also to be built in the area to connect it with settlements in adjacent Maaleh Zeitim district, providing another linkage to the chain of Jewish settlements around East al-Quds’ Old City.
"For the residents of Ras al-Amud, this will be very bad. They (the Jewish settlers) will expand. They attack residents, trying to create anger and anxiety and to push people to leave," said Ziad Hamouri, head of the Palestinian al-Quds Center for Socio-Economic Rights.
Palestinians and the international community have repeatedly condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories, calling it the main obstacle to end the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The new round of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) collapsed shortly after its start in Washington over Tel Aviv’s refusal to freeze settlement construction on Palestinian territories, which was the PA’s main demand for resuming the long-stalled talks.
Palestinians believe the expansion of Jewish settlements makes the establishment of a future Palestinian state impossible. Palestinians consider East al-Quds as the capital of their future independent state.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East al-Quds during the Six Day War in 1967, settling nearly 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel annexed East al-Quds in 1981 and considers it as its exclusive domain, but under international law, the area is considered as an occupied territory and Israeli settlement constructions are illegal.