Egypt slams Israel over new construction in East Jerusalem
Foreign minister says plan to build 1,100 homes in Jerusalem's contested Gilo neighborhood represents 'Israeli defiance to international community.'
Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr on Wednesday condemned Israel's plan to construct 1,100 homes in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
"This illegal measure represents a new and glaring Israeli defiance to the international community, which endeavors to restore credibility to the peace process," Amr, now on a visit to the US, said in a statement released by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
"Egypt is really worried over the steady rise in the pace of settlements construction, especially in the past two months when the building of more than 6,000 homes has been approved," he added.
Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. But their relations have recently suffered their worst crisis.
An Israeli district committee on Tuesday approved construction of 1,100 homes in East Jerusalem. The announcement of the possible approval of construction in Gilo comes amid U.S. attempts to push Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiations table following a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. A key Palestinian condition ahead of resumed talks has been the complete freeze of all Israeli settlement construction.
In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, referring to a plan to expand construction in Gilo, said new Gilo homes could complicate efforts by his administration to relaunch peace talks and embitter the Palestinians.
Obama said at the time that additional settlement building doesn't make Israel safer. He said such moves make it harder to achieve peace in the region, and embitters the Palestinians in a dangerous way.