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France Urges Israel To Refrain From Settlement Activities In East Jerusalem: Fears Breakdown of Peace Process With Palestinians.

France has urged Israel to immediately repeal its decision to build 200 new homes in settlements at East Jerusalem. It said Israel's move is threatening peace and hurting the process towards a two-state peace solution.

"The decision of the Israeli authorities in approving the construction of 200 new homes in the Ramot settlement directly contravenes the two-state solution," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said. "Therefore, France will urge Israel to go back on this decision at a time when everything should be done to stop the escalation in violence and relaunch the peace process," Nadal said in a strong statement, reported ( Reuters.

The new housing activity is set to come up on a sprawling hillside complex with lots of apartment buildings and private homes. This northern edge of Jerusalem is part of the land that Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to the city. But it was never recognised internationally as Palestinians want this territory as part of their future state. Meanwhile, French lawmakers are also pressing the government to recognise Palestine as a state. The French action is likely to anger the Jewish state further.

Israel Plan

Meanwhile, ( Al Jazeera reported that Israel has announced plans to build 1,500 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem, the city claimed by the Palestinians. It came hours after Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the peace talks package. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter also said Israel will build an archaeology and tourism site near the Old City, home to Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites.

The housing plans were announced by Israel in 2010 during U.S Vice President Joe Biden's visit and had sparked a diplomatic rift with Washington, which took many months to end. The latest move is being seen by many as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dodge the internal criticism he is facing, after the release of prisoners. The report said the plans to build homes in the city's Arab sector had appeared in Israeli media almost immediately after Israel began freeing 21 prisoners to the West Bank and another five to Gaza Strip.

Palestinians Angry

Nabil Abu Rudeina, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's spokesman said the settlement plan "will only destroy the peace process and send wrong message to the international community that Israel does not respect international law." The Palestinians have been refusing to resume peace negotiations with Israel until it ends construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Nov 14, 2014
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