'Obstacle to Peace': EU Condemns Israeli Plans for New East Jerusalem Construction

Housing Ministry issued tenders for 805 housing units in existing Jewish neighborhood beyond 1967 borders

File photo: Construction in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramot, East Jerusalem, May 31, 2018.
Emil Salman

The European Union has condemned Israeli plans for the construction of 805 housing units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, beyond the 1967 borders, after tenders were issued Wednesday by Israel's Housing Ministry.

In a statement released Saturday, the EU said it is "strongly opposed to Israel's settlement policy, including in East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace."

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The EU's spokeswoman for foreign affairs, Maja Kojijancic, added "The policy of settlement construction and expansion in East Jerusalem continues to undermine the possibility of a viable two-state solution with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, which is the only realistic way to achieve a just and lasting peace."

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The Israeli move comes as the U.S. administration prepares to roll out the first part of its Middle East peace plan, which the Palestinian leadership opposes, in an economic conference in Bahrain later in June.

Israeli NGO Peace Now, which monitors Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, said Thursday that tenders were published for 460 housing units in the neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, about half of them for assisted living, and 345 in Ramot.

These tenders, however, are based on plans approved over the last two years for areas that are already built, and are only "intended to add housing units … in a way that increases density … and does not actually expand the area on which the neighborhoods are spread," Peace Now said.

It also condemned "continued construction in East Jerusalem," saying "As long as we have not reached a permanent agreement with the Palestinians on Israel’s borders, building beyond the Green Line is illegitimate and only harms the prospects for peace and trust between the sides."

The organization noted that this planned construction is the largest since 2014, when tenders were issued of 2,240 housing units in Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.