U.S. plaints on Jerusalem trouble Presidents Conference

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The umbrella foreign policy body for U.S. Jewish groups says U.S. complaints about Israel’s plans to build in eastern Jerusalem are "disturbing."

"We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities," the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement released late Tuesday.

"The United States has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land."

U.S. officials last week asked Israel not to continue with plans to build 20 apartments for Jewish residence in Sheik Jarrah, a neighborhood considered the heart of Palestinian culture in Jerusalem.

Groups advocating for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem say illegal building in the Arab sector should be seen in the context of what they say is massive government assistance for Jewish building in Jerusalem and severe restrictions on Arab growth in the city.

At least one Presidents Conference constituent, Americans for Peace Now, said it was not consulted about the statements. Presidents Conference statements are usually issued as a matter of consensus.

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