BRUSSELS, November 5 (RIA Novosti) — Israel's approval of plans to construct 500 housing units in East Jerusalem is undermining international efforts to resume the Israel-Palestine peace process, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday.
"The approval of the construction of 500 new housing units in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo decided by the Israeli Interior Ministry's District Committee for Planning and Construction in Jerusalem risks to jeopardize the on-going efforts to resume a diplomatic process," Mogherini said in a statement published on the European External Action Service website.
"The international community, starting from the EU, is engaged in providing assistance for the rehabilitation of Gaza and help the parties to restart a peace process, but this decision represents yet another highly detrimental step which undermines the prospects for a two-state solution and seriously calls into question Israel's commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians," she added.
Jerusalem is a territory fiercely disputed by Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians are seeking the creation of their own state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital. The international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as illegal. These settlements are the major stumbling block in the Israel-Palestine peace process.
In late October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommended that plans to construct around 1,000 housing units for Jewish families in East Jerusalem be sped up. On November 3, Israel's Interior Ministry confirmed the construction of 500 new units for Jewish families in Ramat Shlomo in northeastern Jerusalem.
At the moment, there are 42 settlements and half the projected total of 600,000 settlers in East Jerusalem, according to Fayed Mustafa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Palestine to Russia. Israel plans to change the demographic situation in Jerusalem so that the Muslim population of the city would not exceed 28 percent.