Israeli PM vows to build in Jerusalem despite criticism

JERUSALEM Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:58pm EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) speaks during his meeting with ambassadors to Israel from Asia, in Jerusalem December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) speaks during his meeting with ambassadors to Israel from Asia, in Jerusalem December 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday his government would press ahead with expanding Jewish settlements around Jerusalem despite Western criticism of its plan to build 6,000 more homes in territory Palestinians seek for a state.

In addition to several thousand housing units approved earlier this month, Israeli media reported that initial approval was granted on Wednesday for construction of another 3,400 units in Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in a 1967 war and annexed it as part of its capital in a move never recognized internationally. Palestinians want the area to be capital of a state they seek to establish in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, land also captured by Israel.

"We are going to build in Jerusalem for all its residents, this is something that has been done by all previous governments and this is something that my government will continue to do," Netanyahu said in a meeting with foreign ambassadors.

"Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years," Netanyahu said. "Imagine that you would limit construction in your own capital, it doesn't make sense."

Netanyahu launched his latest settlement expansion push after Palestinians won de facto recognition as a state in a United Nations vote last month.

Israeli analysts see the settlement drive as also an effort by Netanyahu to enhance support for his right-wing Likud party against other hawkish rivals in a January 22 parliamentary election he is expected to win.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said only 3,000 settlement housing units had as yet received formal cabinet approval, and that it could take years to until more construction was launched.

In a written statement to reporters, Regev said the housing units being planned were "in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs" Israel seeks to keep under any peace deal.

Most world powers deem Israeli settlements illegal and say they are an obstacle to peace. The Palestinians say Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank will deny them a viable state.

The United States and Europe have strongly condemned Israel's latest building plans, and Israeli ambassadors were summoned earlier this month for a reprimand in at least half a dozen European capitals.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said this week that Washington was "deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action."

Nuland said settlement expansion put the goal of achieving a two-state solution already delayed by peace talks being stalled for two years, "further at risk."

Nimr Hammad, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas told Palestinian radio the Palestinians may protest "to the (U.N.) Security Council and seek a resolution there" against Israel's latest settlement plans.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Additional reporting by Noah Browning in Ramallah; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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Comments (38)
Butch_from_PA wrote:
Where does this nut read his history? In make believe land.
He is so deep into religion it is scary dangerous. His make believe land religion also wants an .

Nutty Yahoo’s goal in life is to make Armageddon – just so when he is killed he gets to sit as ruler of the slightly higher heaven apartment complex where he can watch below on other zealots running around with 100 virgins.

Dec 19, 2012 12:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
Yes, Israel. That will help your situation. Poke the dog turd and hope for the best. That has worked so well for you in the past.

Dec 19, 2012 1:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
usagadfly wrote:
The first step for the USA is to publish a schedule for cutting off all of the hundreds and thousands of “preferences” (read, American tax money) for Israel if it does not show substantial progress in coming to an accommodation with its non-Jewish residents and neighbors. Why should Americans have their Food Stamps cut back to miserable levels so the money can be spent on high-dollar walled condo developments that stir up continued trouble in Israel / Palestine? This 1948 habit of the “Greatest” Generation needs to be stopped.

No progress, no money. Period.

Dec 19, 2012 1:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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