Palestinian Authority (PA) officials on Sunday expressed their satisfaction with the US' demand that Israel halt the construction of a hotel in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Hatem Abdel-Qader, who until recently served as the PA's minister for Jerusalem affairs, called the Obama administration's position "encouraging."
"This stance must be translated into actual pressure on the ground, because for now no change can be seen in Israel's conduct" said Qader, currently an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, "The Israeli prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) continues to undermine the efforts to renew the peace process."
On the Israeli side, a Jerusalem municipal council member holding the east Jerusalem portfolio told Ynet, "Jews have a right to live anywhere in Jerusalem," adding that the permits to build the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah were issued legitimately.
"The (construction) area was declared a residential area many years ago," said Yakir Segev, "it is not located in the heart of the Arab neighborhood, but rather on the border between the Sheikh Jarrah and French Hill neighborhoods. It's not as though someone built a Jewish neighborhood smack in the middle of a remote Arab neighborhood."
The Jerusalem Municipality said in response to Washington's demand that "the local planning committee acts according to equal criteria and issues building permits to Jews and Arabs alike regardless of the religion, race or nationality of the buyer.
"The land was purchased legally and the site received all the necessary permits for its renovation….By law and the test of the High Court of Justice, Jews and Arabs are allowed to buy land in the east of the city and the west," it said.
Meretz Party Chairman Chaim Oron said, "Building in the heart of Arab neighborhoods is not in Israel's interest; it is in the interest of real estate developers and those who want to ignite the region. Israel must reach an agreement with the US on this issue."
Tal Rabinovsky and Amnon Meranda contributed to this report