TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran attacked Israel’s settlement plans in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, saying Muslims around the world needed to take action.
Announcements by Israel’s right-wing government of new building projects in East Jerusalem — which the Jewish state seized in a 1967 war — have spoiled U.S. plans to get Palestinians and Israelis back into peace negotiations.
“Expansion of Israeli settlements, destruction of Islamic and Christian sites and wide-scale construction of new synagogues ... show the Zionist plans to accelerate Judaisation of East Jerusalem and unfortunately it is approved by American officials,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in comments reported on Iranian state radio.
“This has raised the alarm for all people around the world and doubled the need for Muslim and other countries to act seriously,” he said, adding that the 22-nation Arab League should take a strong stance at its meeting in Libya this weekend.
U.S. officials have sought to coax Israel into suspending further East Jerusalem projects and discussing core issues such as borders and the status of Jerusalem as part of indirect talks with the Palestinians that have been blessed by the Arab League.
Iran is locked in dispute with the United States and its allies, including Arab states, over its nuclear energy program which they fear will allow Tehran to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no such intention.
Israel says it considers a nuclear Iran as an existential threat and analysts say Israel, itself regarded as a nuclear power, could carry out raids on Iranian sites.
Iran, a major oil and gas producer, sees itself as the main champion of the Palestinian cause among Muslim countries.
Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi, writing by Andrew Hammond; editing by David Stamp