Israel vows more building in al-Quds
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again repeated Tel Aviv’s stance to go ahead with its construction plans in al-Quds (Jerusalem).
In a speech to mark the occupation of East al-Quds’ Old City in 1967, Netanyahu on Tuesday claimed a unique bond between al-Quds and Israel, and that Tel Aviv had provided religious freedom to those in the city — which is highly revered by Christians and seen as the third holiest site in the Muslim world.
“We are building the city. We will continue to build it and ensure it thrives,” he vowed.
Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of al-Quds echoed his earlier remarks dismissing reports of a decision to freeze settlement construction projects during talks with Palestinians, saying settlement expansions would continue across the city.
“We will continue to build in all parts of Jerusalem. The promise of a future Jerusalem with a Jewish majority is a strategic mission for all of us.”
The remarks by Israeli officials are seen as a slap in the face of leaders of the Palestinian Authority who acquiesced on the weekend to commence the US-mediated indirect “proximity talks” with Israel.
The resumption of peace negotiations with Israel was backed by the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization who had allegedly received assurances from Washington that the construction work in East al-Quds would be on hold as long as the talks were running.
The US State Department claimed on Sunday that Tel Aviv had agreed to a two-year halt in some of the building plans in al-Quds.
But Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein rejected the claims a day later. “It is evident we will continue to build over the next two years in Gilo, Pisgat Zeev, and French Hill,” he said.
Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 settlement units in East al-Quds derailed the indirect talks in March and drew widespread criticism even from its Western allies.
Israel occupied East al-Quds during the six-day war in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.