Fresh settlements approved after Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Israel approved fresh plans to expand the settlements in occupied East Jerusalem after Netanyahu and Obama met unusually in Washington.

Fresh settlements approved after Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Israel on Wednesday approved fresh plans to expand the settlements in occupied East Jerusalem after Netanyahu and Obama met unusually in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met twice during a dramatic evening in the White House, but no signs emerged of a breakthrough in a row over Jewish settlements.

A city official said new approval was given to develop a neighbourhood from which Palestinians were deported last year.

The move came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed an unusually low-profile meeting in Washington.

Obama hosted Netanyahu in the Oval Office late Tuesday for 90 minutes, but with the two sides unusually did not appear before the cameras with his visitor.

After just over an hour ensconced in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, the Israeli leader asked to see Obama again, and the president returned from his family quarters for a second Oval Office encounter of 35 minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Netanyahu swept away from the White House in his limousine, without glancing at reporters.

Press coverage of the Oval Office talks was barred, and the leaders made no public statements afterward.

"President Obama and the prime minister met privately for an hour and a half, the atmosphere was good," Netanyahu spokesman Nir Chefetz said in a statement several hours after.

He said the two leaders' advisers "continued discussions on the ideas raised at the meeting" and would hold further talks on Wednesday.

"If the Americans support the unreasonable demands made by the Palestinians regarding a freeze on settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the peace process risks being blocked for a year," Netanyahu said.

"Relations between Israel and the United States should not be hostage to differences between the two countries over the peace process with the Palestinians," he was quoted as saying by Israeli media.

Fresh settlements

Israeli media said Netanyahu was "surprised" by news of the latest plans to build apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah district, which has become a focal point for anti-settler demonstrations since Palestinian residents were evicted.

Earlier, Netanyahu said, he "regretted" the bad timing of an announcement of East Jerusalem building plans during the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden two weeks ago, which Washington called "insulting".

But on Monday, showing no sign of compromise in a dispute which has harmed relations with the United States, Netanyahu told a pro-Israel lobby group: "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital."

He said, the building will "continue there as Israel sees fit."

Elisha Peleg, a Jerusalem city councillor and member of the municipal planning commission, said 20 units had been approved for a compound in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.

Peleg added that a total of 100 homes would be built, beginning with 20 cottages.

Sheikh Jarrah has become a flashpoint of tension in the city since last year when Israel evicted several families descended from Palestinian refugees.

"We will continue to build all over Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah and Ras al-Amud as well," he said, naming another Palestinian neighbourhood in the Jerusalem area.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said President Mahmoud Abbas would "insist" that Israel revoke plans to build in Sheikh Jarrah, as well as those published during the Biden visit to build 1,600 houses at another site near the city.

"When we say peace or settlements, it seems he goes for the settlements," Erekat said of Netanyahu.

In a rare public complaint, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday asked major powers involved in Middle East peace-making for clarifications about Israel's arrogant policy and its insistence on defying international will.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mart 2010, 12:45


Mughalistan - 13 yıl Önce

America is verbally condemning Israel, but in reality supoorting the building of the colonies by financially supporting them, giving weapons and probably behind the scenes giving the green light anyway.

They seem to be extremely desperate to remove the Palestinians.