Palestine hails opposition to Israeli settlement project in East Jerusalem

Ramallah: Palestine hailed the international community’s opposition to the reconstruction of 9,000 units in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

The position of the international community “is a practical step in the right direction,” Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a press statement, adding that “more steps are needed to achieve the goal of stopping the Israeli settlements.”

The statement called on the international community “to exert more efforts to prepare the atmosphere for launching a real peace process in the Middle East based on international peace references and UN resolutions,” Xinhua news agency reported.

It also urged the US to take “practical steps,” mainly reopening the American consulate to run the Palestinians affairs in East Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that the planning and construction committee in the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem postponed a project to build more than 9,000 new housing units on the lands of the (Atarot/Qalandia) Airport.

The reports said that the postponement came after the planning committee requested a survey to determine the plan’s environmental impact, a process likely to take months or longer.

It added that the plan presented last month outraged the administration of US President Joe Biden, and was originally opposed by other countries that support the two-state solution.

The Palestinian foreign ministry warned against “Israel’s misleading campaigns regarding its settlement projects in general, especially since the committee postponed the approval of the settlement project and did not cancel it.”

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are claimed by the Palestinians, in the 1967 Middle East war and has controlled them ever since.

According to Israeli and Palestinian estimates, about 650,000 Israeli settlers live in 164 settlements and 124 outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel’s settlement expansion has been the thorniest issue in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and one of the major reasons behind the stalemate in the peace negotiations between the two sides since 2014.