Silwan neighborhood in east Jerusalem
Photo: Noam Moskowitz
To attend AIPAC convention. Netanyahu
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Israel may freeze construction in east Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods

Amid spat with US over construction in disputed part of capital, Jerusalem considers limiting construction in Jewish neighborhoods behind Green Line; right-wing ministers reject proposal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been presented with a new proposal according to which construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem that are located behind the Green Line will be reduced, while Jewish construction in Arab neighborhoods will be frozen altogether, Ynet reported Thursday.


A similar proposal was brought before the "forum of seven ministers," but was apparently rejected by right-wing members of cabinet. President Shimon Peres, who met with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday, supports the proposal. 


Jewish construction in east Jerusalem has gained momentum since Mayor Nir Barkat took office.


The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.


On Wednesday leaders of the Yesha Council sent an official letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her and President Barack Obama to ease their pressure on Israel to stop construction in east Jerusalem, basing their claims on the people of Israel's historical connection to their capital.


"We Jews are the descendants of King David, and 100 generations of Jews who built and glorified Jerusalem as our capital, beginning over 3,000 years ago," the settler leaders said in the letter.


Israeli officials said US Mideast envoy George Mitchell may return to the Middle East on Sunday to launch the indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. An announcement on the so-called "proximity talks" was supposed to be made during US Vice President Joe Biden's recent visit to the region, but the spat over Israel's plan to build 1,600 additional apartments in east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood has delayed the start of negotiations.


Netanyahu is expected to leave for the US Sunday to attend the AIPAC convention. He is due back in Israel on Thursday, meaning that the announcement on the launching of indirect talks may be pushed back another week.


פרסום ראשון: 03.18.10, 12:02
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