PA: Israel is Destroying the Peace Process
As expected, Israel has been widely condemned for approving new construction in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
The Palestinian Authority accused Israel on Wednesday of “trying to wreck peace talks” with plans to build 1,500 new homes in the neighborhood, often erroneously described by anti-Israeli media as an "illegal settlement in east Jerusalem".
A spokesman for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeina, was quoted by AFP as having said Israel’s move "destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law."
Plans to build the homes in Ramat Shlomo were made public almost immediately after Israel freed 26 terrorist murderers as a “gesture” to Abbas in order to continue the renewed peace talks.
Later a senior Israeli official confirmed to AFP that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar had "agreed on four building plans in Jerusalem."
The PA was not the only one to condemn the building. The Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, called on Abbas's western-backed PA to break off the talks, saying they encouraged “Israeli settlement.”
"It is ... the PA's negotiations with the occupation that are now providing (Israel) with a cover for these crimes," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, according to AFP.
Washington also condemned the construction, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki telling reporters, “We do not consider continued settlement activity or east Jerusalem construction to be steps that create a positive environment for the negotiations.”
Israel’s neighbor, Jordan, with whom Israel has a peace treaty, also condemned Israel’s construction.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momeni was quoted by AFP as having said the plans were "a direct threat to the peace process."
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement he released on Wednesday, condemned Israel’s building announcement but expressed “appreciation” for Israel’s decision to release terrorists who murdered Israelis as a “gesture” to the PA.
The plan to build 1,500 homes in Ramat Shlomo has been shelved and then revived several times over the past few years, largely because of criticism over it by the United States.