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Israel Considering Major Settlement Project in East Jerusalem

  • Robert Berger

Gilo, a Jewish settlement on land Israel captured in 1967 and annexed to its Jerusalem municipality, is seen in this general view (File Photo)

Gilo, a Jewish settlement on land Israel captured in 1967 and annexed to its Jerusalem municipality, is seen in this general view (File Photo)

A new Israeli construction project could harm international efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.

Israel is considering a plan to build 1,400 new apartments in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo in disputed East Jerusalem. But the United States and the Palestinians consider Gilo an illegal settlement because it was built on territory Israel captured from Jordan during the Six Day War in 1967.

Jerusalem Councilman Elisha Peleg supports the plan, which could be approved next week. He says Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and the city will not be divided.

"The Jews have the right to build in all parts of Jerusalem including East Jerusalem," said Peleg. "It is part of the city."

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and they say building there is illegal under international law.

Hagit Ofran of Israel's left-wing Peace Now movement agrees. She says unilateral steps by Israel are destroying the peace process.

"If Israel wants to build in East Jerusalem, we need to sign an agreement with the Palestinians and then it will be legitimate that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel," she said. "If we get to a two-state solution, then it is possible. Until then, it will always cause us problems, so it is against the Israeli interests."

The Palestinians say they will not return to peace talks until Israel halts all settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Palestinian officials are drafting a proposal for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would condemn Israel for the settlements.

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