Israeli officials on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build 200 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, a settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, despite a similar move was harshly condemned by the international community last week, Xinhua reported.
The Local Committee for Planning and Construction in the Jerusalem Municipality announced in a statement that the controversial construction will be made on a land currently belonged to a private developer.
A senior official with the Jerusalem Municipality told Israel's Channel 2 that the committee authorized also new construction for Arabs in east Jerusalem. "Criticizing only construction for Jews is hypocrisy," the official said, adding that the new construction is "vital for the development of the city and to attract young couples."
The move comes at a time of daily clashes between Palestinian youths and the Israeli police over access to a holy site and the continuing construction in the settlement.
This is the third time this month the committee approved new construction for settlers in Arab East Jerusalem. Last Monday, the committee authorized the construction of about 500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, and two days later it approved additional 278 houses in Ramot and Har Homa, both are settlement neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
The settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. Several rounds of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians reached a deadlock over the Israeli construction in the settlements.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Mideast War, a move which has not been recognized internationally. More than 300, 000 Palestinians live in those territories.
The Palestinians and international community are vehemently against the construction, mainly as it would make it difficult to form a territorial continuity between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israeli officials reiterate the stance that Jerusalem is Israel's "undivided and eternal" capital and reject the international community's criticism, saying Israel has a right to build there.