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Amid tensions in Jerusalem, Israel announces 1,000 new settler homes in the city

Ireland has joined the US and others in condemning the move.

Palestinian protester runs from tear gas during clashes with security forces.
Palestinian protester runs from tear gas during clashes with security forces.

IRELAND HAS JOINED international criticism of plans by Israel to build settlements on parts of Jerusalem Palestinians hope to use as the capital of a future State.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says that the plans announced by Prime Minster Benjamin Netayahu to build 1,060 new housing units in East Jerusalem calls Israel’s commitment to a two-State solution into question.

Flanagan said in a statement today that the announcement comes at a time of ”heightened tensions in Jerusalem” with settlers encroaching on long standing arrangements governing the Al Aqsa Mosque in the city.

The minister said that the settlements are illegal and unacceptable and that Israel should desist from their plans:

This intention to proceed with new settlements in that part of Jerusalem which Palestinians rightly hope will eventually serve as the capital of their state calls into question the commitment of the Israeli government to engage in meaningful negotiations aimed at achieving a two-State solution.

Speaking to parliament, Netanyahu defended the stance saying there was a wide consensus in Israel to continue building throughout the city, just as every Israeli government has done since Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967.

“Even the Palestinians know that these places will stay in Israeli sovereignty under any agreement,” he said. “The French build in Paris, the English build in London and the Israelis build in Jerusalem. To come and tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem — why?”

East Jerusalem is home to the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. Israel says the whole city will forever be its capital, citing historical, religious and security reasons.

Israel seized east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community, including the United States.

PastedImage-43967 Map of settlements in east Jerusalem (2011). Source: Peacenow.org

The US has blasted Israel’s latest settler plans saying any such move would be “incompatible” with peace efforts.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was “deeply concerned” by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.

“We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem,” Psaki told reporters.

“Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace,” she added.

Additional reporting by © – AFP 2014 and Associated Press

Read: “Settlements are illegal” – Ireland joins chorus of condemnation of Israeli land grab >

Read: Israel announces massive land seizure for new West Bank settlements >

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Rónán Duffy

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