JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jerusalem municipal committee approved the establishment of a new Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee on Wednesday afternoon approved 625 housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev. The new neighborhood reportedly will be called North Pisgat Ze’ev.
The Obama administration strongly opposed the announcement, according to news reports.
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday that the approval showed that Israel had chosen "settlements and not peace."
"This Israeli signal shows that they are not willing and not ready for any deal in order to resume the negotiations," Nabil Abu Rdainah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, told Reuters. "It looks like this is an Israeli message to the Palestinians and the Americans that they are refusing any deal resuming the negotiations."
The Palestinians have said they will not return to peace negotiations with Israel unless Israel halts building in all West Bank settlements and eastern Jerusalem. The United States has offered to provide Israel with a package of incentives, including including 20 F-35 state of the art combat fighter planes, in return for the extension of a 10-month freeze on construction in the settlements that expired in September.
The 10-month freeze did not include eastern Jerusalem, and it is unclear whether a new freeze would.