title: 'Israel settlement negative Palestine E1 Jerusalem' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:
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The UN Security Council has ramped up pressure on Israel over its settlement construction programme in the West Bank. In a rare move, the US has criticised Israel's position saying building plans will seriously hinder the prospects for peace negotiations. The criticism comes after Israel announced it would build at least three thousands new homes there - a move widely seen as retalliation for UN granting the Palestinian Authority observer status at the General Assembly. Plans for construction in a sensitive area east of Jerusalem known as E1 could see the West Bank effectively divided in two halves. It would also cut Palestinians off from east Jerusalem – which they want as the capital of a Palestinian state. Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said Israel was putting the two-state solution in jeopardy. “Not only does it impact negatively the Palestine Israeli relations but also puts in question the implementation of the formula of the two-state solution,” he said. In a joint statement, EU members of the Security Council said they strongly oppose construction in E1 and are also deeply disappointed with plans announced by Israel for more than 5,000 new settlement homes. The statement read: “Israel's announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate.” On Tuesday Jerusalem's planning committee approved a new settlement with 2,610 homes in East Jerusalem – the first to be built in the area since 1997. In the past week, Israel has also announced plans for another 2,500 new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The US, which traditionally protects Israel at the UN, refused to take part in the Security Council’s criticism. But on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described settlement-building as ‘provocative’. “We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” she said during a press briefing. “These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to back down. Speaking at a gathering of foreign diplomats in Israel, he said all Israeli governments have built in Jerusalem. But Dmitry Mariasis, senior research fellow at the Department of Israeli Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes the new homes are unlikely to be constructed. He says Netanyahu simply needs to do some tough talking in the run up to Israel’s general election in January. “After the elections we will see that this issue will calm down,” he said. For their part, the Palestinians have threatened to take Israel to the International Criminal Court over its settlements, which are illegal under international law. The legal action may be possible after Palestine was recognised by the UN last month as a non-member observer state. The last round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over settlement construction.