The Guardian reports: Israel has submitted plans to build the first big Jewish settlement in the occupied territories in 25 years, in a move condemned as an “assassination” of attempts to revive peace negotiations.
A leading Israeli peace group, Peace Now, denounced the plan to build 2,600 homes at Givat Hamatos on the southern edge of Jerusalem as a “game changer” because it would virtually cut off the Arab east of the city from the rest of the occupied West Bank.
The UN, the EU and Britain joined the Palestinians in condemning the move as provocative at a time when the major powers are struggling to rekindle negotiations while the Palestinian bid for statehood is still before the UN security council.
The Palestinian leadership, which has said there can be no new talks if settlement building continues, said the plans were further evidence that Israel “wants to destroy the peace process”.
Givat Hamatos would form a big part of the crescent of Jewish settlements which, in parallel with the West Bank wall and fence, has increasingly isolated East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied territories. Israeli peace activists say the intention is to solidify Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem and to minimise the amount of the city ceded to an independent Palestine. Work could begin as early as next year.