MOSCOW, November 16 (Sputnik) — The Israeli Foreign Minister has stated that Israel refuses to limit its building of settlements in occupied east Jerusalem, in a meeting with his German counterpart in Jerusalem.
“It should be obvious to everyone that Israel will never accept a definition of construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem as settlement activities," said Avigdor Liberman on Sunday.
It was announced on Wednesday that a plan to construct 200 new homes in the Ramot area of East Jerusalem had been approved by authorities, a decision met with strong criticism abroad.
“We call Israel to immediately go back on this decision,” French Foreign ministry spokesman Nadal told France 24. The decision “directly threatens a two-state solution,” he said.
Ramot is located on land annexed by Israel in 1967, and is considered by some in the international community to be an illegal settlement. However, Liberman in Sunday’s statement expressed his government’s continued defiance of international opinion: “No one will accept that construction in neighborhoods like Ramot, Gilo or East Talpiot can be construed as "settlement construction." This is a distortion of reality that we will not accept,” he added.
The Times of Israel reported on Thursday that city officials in Jerusalem had also approved plans for another 174 homes to be constructed in the city’s Arab neighborhoods, a proposal criticized by political opponents. City councilor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP, “It is a decision which is going to cause great harm.”
The renewed building plans come after 500 apartments were approved at the end of October for construction in another neighborhood, Ramat Shlomo, also situated beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The plan was described by the US as “unfortunate at this sensitive time,” and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki reiterated the US government’s “unequivocal and unanimous position” opposing construction in East Jerusalem.
After the six-day war in 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, in a move considered illegal by the United Nations. While Israel sees Jerusalem as its undivided capital, Palestinians want the east of the city to be the capital of their future state.