Erekat: Homes in J'lem 'Slap in the Face' to US

PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat livid over more construction announcements, claims move insults US, international community, peace.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Miriam Alster/ Flash 90

Israeli plans for roughly 500 new Jewish homes in Jerusalem are a "slap in the face" of the United States and the international community, a top Palestinian Authority (PA) official said Tuesday.

Israel approved construction of the homes on Monday as chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat met US Secretary of State John Kerry in the United States, leftist group Peace Now stated.

Erekat responded by slamming the move as an insult to the US. 

"With the situation in occupied Jerusalem at boiling point, Israel's latest settlement announcement is a slap in the face to Kerry, to the international community, to the Palestinian people, and to peace," Erakat said in a statement late Monday.

"The message is clear," Erakat said. "The Netanyahu government chooses settlements over negotiations, colonisation over the two-state solution, and apartheid over equality and coexistence," he added.

The US and the international community have condemned repeated plans for new Jewish homes in Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

Israel, unlike the international community, considers the whole of Jerusalem to be its undivided capital.

The US issued sharp criticism of the decision to build the homes, which are slated for building in the overcrowded Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, calling the move "illegitimate." 

"It is unfortunate that after the unequivocal and unanimous position last week of the international community opposing construction in Jerusalem at this sensitive time, authorities chose to advance [tenders]," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez stated Monday. 

"We continue to engage at the highest levels with the Israeli government to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem." 

The statement is a near-verbatim rehash of similar criticism directed at Israel last week, after it decided to finally advance more than 1,000 building tenders that had been waiting for construction since as far back as 2010. 

Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave instructions for the building of about 660 homes in Ramat Shlomo and about 400 more in Har Homa, in the capital's southern section. And in October, he approved 2,610 building tenders from 2012 to be approved for full construction

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to the moves by saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.