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Monday May 10, 2010 2:42 PM (EST+7)
Construction for East Jerusalem's largest settlement coincides with new peace talks

Read more: Peace Now, Settlements, East Jerusalem, peace negotiations, US foreign policy, US policy, Yasser Abed Rabbo

Plans to build the largest Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem are being put into action stated Peace Now on Sunday. Haaretz reports that renovations have begun for the construction of 104 housing units on the land of an old Israeli police station.

The new settlement is planned to be connected to an existing Jewish neighborhood, Ma'aleh Zeitim, and togther will be occupied by some 200 families, forming the largest Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

When the two neighborhoods are completed and linked, a Jewish settlement of more than 1,000 people will be situated in the heart of Ras al-Amud, a neighborhood comprising 14,000 Palestinians.

The renovations come two days after the start of the new peace negotiations. Concerns exist over the effect this will have on the talks.

An Israeli decision in March to allow the construction of 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo triggered a severe crisis between Jerusalem and Washington, and led to a delay in the start of the indirect talks.

Peace Now highlights that the difference is that these renovations do not require municipal building permits and so avoid having to seek that controversial official approval. However, the Palestinian Authority has reported the action to the United States says Haaretz.

This is the first violation and first breach of the terms to start the indirect negotiations, said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, which on Saturday voted in favor of indirect negotiations under U.S. mediation.

We will act immediately to stop this, because we will not agree that negotiations will be used as a cover for settlement activities, he said. 






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