Ma'an News Agency
October 9, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority said on Sunday Israel's decision to approve new housing units in an East Jerusalem settlement undermined the Middle East Quartet's proposal for talks.

"Israel's approval of more settlement housing, this time in Pisgat Zeev, is a clear violation of the Quartet's initiative, which calls for negotiations without pre-conditions and without provocations," the statement said.

"The Quartet must tell Israel that it cannot pretend to accept its initiative while flagrantly breaching its terms," it added.

Israel's Jerusalem municipality gave the green light for the construction of 11 new apartments in the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the annexed east of the city, a councilor told AFP on Saturday.

The new homes are part of a project of 300 housing units.

The PA said the plan "is further evidence that Israel's claim to be willing to negotiate without pre-conditions is a pretense, following the announcement of hundreds of new apartments in Gilo.

"It is not enough for the Quartet merely to regret or condemn these Israeli provocations."

Israel on September 27 approved a plan to build 1,100 new homes in the Gilo settlement in East Jerusalem, prompting an angry reaction from the international community and Palestinian officials, who said it amounted to a direct rejection of international efforts to restart peace talks.

The Palestinian Authority statement called on the Middle East Quartet to recognize that Israel is "pre-determining" the outcome of negotiations by "insisting on building in East Jerusalem."

The diplomatic Quartet -- made up of the US, the European Union, Russia and the UN -- issued a call for a return to talks within a month on Sept. 23, as President Mahmoud Abbas handed Palestine's application for UN membership.

The Quartet proposal did not insist of a halt to settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which Palestinian officials say is necessary for the viability of a Palestinian state.

The issue of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to peace negotiations and the implementation of a two state solution.

Israel welcomed the Quartet proposal, but added it had "some concerns" about the plan, without giving details.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. All settlements built on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

Some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, amidst a population of over 2.5 million Palestinians in the same territory.


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