Ashton to Israel: Reverse Decision on East Jerusalem Building Plans

Top EU diplomat condemns announcement to issue permits for 558 new apartments beyond the Green Line.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned Israel's decision to issue permits for 558 new apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.

"I urge the Israeli authorities to reconsider their plans and to reverse their decision," Ashton said in a statement.

Ashton said she was "deeply concerned" by the Jerusalem municipal authorities' approval of building permits for housing units in East Jerusalem, Har Homa, Neveh Yaakov and Pisgat Ze’ev.

"These plans could put at risk the prospects of Jerusalem becoming the capital of two states and, in particular, the territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem and the southern West Bank," Ashton added.

According to the Jerusalem Municipal Committee for Planning and Building, 389 units were approved in Har Homa, 136 in Neveh Yaakov and 36 in Pisgat Ze'ev, all beyond the Green Line. According to the committee, these are plans that were approved years ago.

The committee also authorized housing units for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem: 17 in Tzur Baher, 14 in Beit Safafa, eight in Jabal Mukkaber and six in Beit Hanina.

The EU's top diplomat reiterated that the international community has "repeatedly warned that any unilateral action prejudging the final status of Jerusalem threatens the current peace negotiations and, as a consequence, the two-state solution."

Such developments must be avoided at all costs, she said.