The Israeli Housing Ministry today announced plans to build 25,000 homes across metro Jerusalem, and within this announcement were 15,000 new settlement homes within occupied East Jerusalem areas, a massive expansion of settlement in the area.
Israeli officials don’t present expansions in the East Jerusalem settlements as “settlement” expansion, however, as they insist the area, occupied since 1967, is part of the “eternal” capital of Israel, and will never be given back to the Palestinians at any rate.
The latest move sparked a lot of international criticism, with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declaring the move an attempt at “deliberate sabotage” of the peace process, and noting that all settlement construction in the occupied territories is illegal under international law.
The US had been pressuring Israel to “hold back” on settlement expansions, but no formal deal was ever reached. The US had proposed a deal where Israel would halt expansion of remote outposts, with more construction in East Jerusalem, but it seems Israel is going to just expand at an ever-growing rate without agreeing to any of the limits.
The timing of the announcement, amid the latest calls for peace by President Trump, risks Israel irking the US government, as once again it appears to be a deliberate attempt to both forestall new talks, and thumb their nose at the process in general.