JERUSALEM, Feb 26 (JMCC & Reuters) - Israel has plans to build another 600 homes in occupied land that is part of East Jerusalem.
The homes will be constructed between the Palestinian village of Hizma and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev on land confiscated in the eighties. The original plan was comprised of 1100 housing units, but not all of the homes were approved.
The plan, approved by a district planning commission, could further hamper US-brokered efforts to revive stalled peace talks as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted on a total settlement freeze in all territories, including Jerusalem.
Israeli officials reached by telephone had no immediate comment.
Responding to news of the plan in a visit to Hebron Friday, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said, Palestinians are united. We are united in the rejection of all [these moves] on our land and our steadfastness. Staying on the land is resistance.
Palestinian official Ghassan al-Khatib denounced the decision as another Israeli violation of international law.
He said it threatened to derail efforts to resume negotiations that have not convened since a war in Gaza in December 2008.
Khatib, a former cabinet minister who heads the Palestinian press office, said Palestinians would pursue what he called a peaceful, legal, public struggle against Israeli settlement expansion and occupation.
A similar building plan proposed late last year for other parts of the Jerusalem area drew international condemnation.
Israel has also been criticized for court-approved evictions of Palestinians from homes in East Jerusalem and for threatening to demolish houses that it says were built illegally.
More than 200,000 Israelis already live in East Jerusalem and nearby areas of the West Bank that Israel captured in a 1967 war and considers part of its eternal and indivisible capital.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu excluded the Jerusalem municipality, whose boundaries are not recognised internationally, from a 10-month moratorium in settlement building that he ordered in November.
The World Court has ruled that all the settlements Israel has built in occupied territory are illegal.