Xmas gift to Palestinians: Israel approves 1,200 Jerusalem settler homes
JERUSALEM - Israel's interior ministry has approved the building of 1,200 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement neighbourhood of Gilo, the latest in a slew of such approvals, Israeli watchdog Peace Now said.
The approval, which came late on Monday night, follows Israeli committee approvals for thousands of units in neighbourhoods across east Jerusalem and in the West Bank last week.
"This approval from the interior ministry for the construction of 1,200 homes in Gilo comes after a meeting on Thursday by the planning committee for the Jerusalem district to hear objections to the project," Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said.
The approval applies to the Mordot Gilo extension of Gilo, a settlement neighbourhood in southern Jerusalem near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
"In the past seven days alone, Israel has approved 5,350 new settler units in East Jerusalem, a pace unprecedented since 1967," Daniel Seidemann of the Terrestrial Jerusalem settlement watchdog group wrote on his official Twitter account.
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its "eternal, undivided" capital and defends construction in all parts of the city.
But the Palestinians want east Jerusalem for the capital of their promised state, and they -- along with the international community -- consider settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank a violation of international law.