Peres reaffirms to EU Israel's construction policy in Jerusalem

09:35, March 19, 2010      

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Israel will continue its policy on its construction in Jerusalem, Israeli President Shimon Peres told a senior European Union official on Thursday.

The president said, when meeting early Thursday morning with EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, that Israel will continue its building in Jewish communities in the holy city, instead of the Arab-populated areas.

"The pattern was for building in suburbs that were basically Jewish and not in those suburbs that were basically Arab. We have to continue that policy. We shouldn't build where we didn't, and we should build where we did," local daily The Jerusalem Post quoted Peres as saying.

Ashton, currently in her first visit to Israel and Palestinian territories after taking office, emphasized EU's support to the Middle East peace process, and urged the two sides to launch peace negotiations.

The international community has expressed great concern on the Jerusalem issue since Israeli Interior Ministry announced a 1,600 apartments building project in Jewish neighborhood Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem earlier this month.

The announcement has aroused harsh condemnation from the Palestinians and the international community, making the recently- announced indirect talks between Israel and Palestinians tumbling.

Ashton warned on Monday in Cairo that the recent Israeli measures jeopardized peace talks with the Palestinians. Addressing a meeting with the members of the Arab League (AL), she said the Israeli approval of establishing new housing units in the occupied East Jerusalem endangered the agreement reached with the Palestinian side to start indirect negotiations.

The announcement of Israel's recent housing project in East Jerusalem also led to a high tension between the Jewish state and the United States, with the U.S. Obama administration has reportedly asked its ally to reverse the decision on the Ramat Shlomo housing project.

Israeli media reported on Thursday that a new proposal over Jerusalem construction policy was presented during a meeting of Israel's "forum of seven ministers," where they were talking about how to respond to the requests of the United States.

The proposal, which demands to reduce construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem while freeze all the Jewish construction in Arab neighborhoods in the area, was "apparently" rejected by right-wing ministers, reported local news service Ynet.

The status of Jerusalem has become one of the core issues in Middle East peace process. Israel claims that Jerusalem is their " indivisible capital" and the Palestinians deem the eastern part of the holy city as capital of their future state.

Source: Xinhua
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