July 10, 2008 - 3:19pm

Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo said Thursday that the Palestinians were considering freezing their peace talks with Israel over Israeli construction plans for East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians hope to establish the eastern sector of the city as capital of their future state, and see continued Israeli construction there as undermining that goal.

Since renewing negotiations with the Palestinians in November, Israel has disclosed plans to build more than 3,000 apartments in East Jerusalem and the adjoining West Bank. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war. Abed Rabbo's comments were more likely a reflection of Palestinian unhappiness than a real indication of Palestinian intent to break off talks.

The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee on Wednesday approved the construction of 1,800 new housing in Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev, two neighborhoods over the Green Line division.

The plan, which still requires approval from Jerusalem's local committee, includes the construction of 920 new housing units in Har Homa and 880 units in Pisgat Ze'ev. Such expansion goes against the official stance of the U.S. government, which opposes construction in East Jerusalem.

Both neighborhoods are located on lands captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, and were incorporated into the municipal borders of Jerusalem in an act not recognised internationally.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski welcomed the plan's preliminary approval.


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