OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - Israeli plans for 1,000 new units in Al-Quds (Occupied Jerusalem) has triggered a storm of condemnations from European, American and Egyptian officials, as destroying any chances of peace plans in the Middle East.
"Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state (peace) solution impossible," EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said in a statement cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Friday, May 31.
"The EU has repeatedly urged ... Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem," she said.
The EU official was commenting on announcement of Israeli government plans to construct 300 new illegal settler units in al-Quds.
Housing Ministry spokesman Ariel Rosenberg said on Thursday that the new units will be built in Ramot settlement, which lies in territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
A day earlier, an Israeli NGO said that the regime plans to build 1,000 new settler units in al-Quds.
Danny Seidemann, director of Jerusalem settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem, said that contracts for 300 homes in the northeastern settlement of Ramot were signed.
Another 797 plots were to be offered for sale in the southern Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, he added.
Both are in mainly-Arab areas of the holy city which were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day war then annexed, in a move still unrecognised by the international community.
Ashton said she felt "compelled to reiterate the EU's long-standing position" following reports of the settlement plans.
"The EU has consistently maintained that negotiations remain the best way forward... and it reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem."
Another report has revealed that the Israeli regime confiscated 1,977 acres of the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank for its settlement activity during 2012.
The United States warned Israel that continued settlement activity in Al-Quds was "counterproductive" to efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
"Israelis must recognise that continued settlement activity and new housing construction in East Jerusalem is counterproductive to the cause of peace," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"The US position on settlements is clear and has not changed: we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which would undermine peace efforts and would contradict Israeli commitments and obligations," she said.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned the decision, saying it will undermine efforts aim at resuming peace talks.
According to a statement released from the Foreign Ministry, the Israeli decision was "sabotaging efforts to re-start peace negotiations." Minister Amr noted.
"This step of Israel means the undervaluing of the emotions of millions of Muslims and the international community, as well as ignorance of international agreements."
Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank.
The international community considers all settlements on the occupied land illegal.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net