The announcement drew immediate
criticism from the Palestinians, and from Israel’s leading
anti-settlement group, which accused the government of seizing
on mass protests over housing costs to give economic
justification to the always explosive issue of building in the
Palestinians oppose all Israeli
construction in east Jerusalem because it chips away at their
hopes to establish the capital of a future state in the holy
city. The approval for the new apartments also could create new
problems for Washington, which is trying to persuade the
Palestinians to abandon their statehood bid and enter into
negotiations with Israel instead.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb
Erekat accused Israel of favoring settlements over peace. “We
call upon the US administration to support our endeavor at the
UN because the only way to preserve the two-state solution now
is the admittance of the state of Palestine,” he said.
The Peace Now anti-settlement
group accused the government of “cynically” exploiting a
sweeping grassroots uprising sparked by high housing prices to
cement its plans to build new apartments in Jerusalem’s
contested eastern sector.