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25 Dec, 2017 04:43

Palestinians outraged by Israel’s ‘colonial construction plan’ for East Jerusalem

Palestinians outraged by Israel’s ‘colonial construction plan’ for East Jerusalem

Palestinian authorities have condemned the planned construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem as an “Israeli colonial dare,” encouraged by Washington's controversial recognition of the Holy City as Israel’s capital.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates denounced the plan to construct 300 new housing units in the occupied part of Jerusalem. The plan is “part of Israel’s colonial and expansionist projects implemented by the Israeli government encouraged by the latest announcement of US President Donald Trump’s to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the ministry said. Israel's Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant allegedly advocated for the scheme.

The Palestinian ministry said the “Israeli colonial dare” would not have happened was it not for Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem “as the capital of the occupying power.” The statement added that Palestinian authorities would hold the American president and his administration personally responsible “for any crimes” that might stem from Israel's "expansionist" move.

The alleged “aggressive” settlement plans under the so-called Greater Jerusalem bill have also been condemned by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Department of Jerusalem Affairs. It noted that the construction project aims to fragment the “geographical and demographic unity” of Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.

While Israel has yet to officially announce new settlement construction, Israeli media reported Sunday that the Planning and Building Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality would review new construction plans Monday, despite Washington's request to temporarily “calm down” the construction boom.

The Holy City’s authorities plan to approve 277 new housing units comprising eight buildings in three areas of Gilo, an Israeli settlement in southwestern East Jerusalem, according to an Israeli Channel 13 report.

The construction of some of units already began a year ago, Channel 2 said, adding, that six of the permits that are expected to be granted Monday will be awarded retroactively. Three other permits due for approval will reportedly be an extension of licenses approved last year.

The US recognition of Jerusalem apparently encouraged Israel's expansionist policies, such as the Greater Jerusalem bill, condemned by the Palestinians Sunday. The measure, being debated in the Knesset, seeks to change the fragile social structure of Jerusalem, by making the Holy City predominantly Jewish. If approved, Israel will immediately absorb nineteen West Bank settlements into Jerusalem’s borders and thus relegate the status of some Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem to sub-municipalities.

The dispute over Jerusalem dates back to 1947, when a UN partition plan called for the creation of two independent states for Jews and Palestinians. The city of Jerusalem, which is holy for Christians, Muslims and Jews, was to be given special international status. However, the plan was never implemented, as war broke out in the region. Israel seized East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War with Arab states and declared the entire city its undivided capital in 1980.The US embassy, as well as other foreign missions, are currently located in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic and diplomatic capital.