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Israel Advances East Jerusalem Settlement Plan

A view of Jerusalem is seen in the background as a man sits in Giv'at HaMatos, a neighborhood on the southern fringes of Jerusalem's city limits where Israel has decided to move forward on a settler housing project, Oct. 2, 2014.

A new Israeli settlement plan is further raising tensions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

Israel is advancing plans to build 1,000 new housing units for Jews in disputed East Jerusalem, on land Palestinians claim for a future state.

Yariv Oppenheimer of Israel's Peace Now movement said settlements are destroying any hope of reviving the peace process.

“When the government is making the decision to build settlements, it actually changes the reality on the ground for years to come; and doing that prevents the chance to have the two-state solution being implemented,” said Oppenheimer.

The move comes as tensions increase between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem following this year's 50-day war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. There has been daily violence in Arab neighborhoods, where stone-throwing youths have clashed with Israeli police and vandalized public property.

Tensions soared last week when a Palestinian plowed his car into a crowd at a Jerusalem train station, killing a baby and wounding several other people. Police described it as a “terrorist attack.”

Jewish settlement activist Yisrael Meidad welcomed the construction plans and praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for standing firm against domestic and international opposition.

“Given the tremendous amount of pressure he is facing from those of the left of center and the knocking of heads between us and Washington over the past year or so, taking these steps is a step in the right direction,” said Meidad.

The United States repeatedly has urged Israel to refrain from settlement expansion, describing it as an obstacle to peace. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of committing “crimes” that are punishable under international law.

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