JERUSALEM (JTA) — A plan to build nearly 900 apartments in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo was approved on the eve of scheduled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The final approval by the Interior Ministry came late Monday. The plan now goes to the Housing Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration for approval.
The plan was approved by the ministry’s regional planning and building committee in December, according to Haaretz, but ministry approval was delayed by changes to the plan.
Monday’s announcement came a day after the announcement that Israel would issue tenders for construction companies to build 1,200 apartments in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
Palestinian negotiators have threatened to boycott the opening of the first new peace negotiations in three years, scheduled for Wednesday in Jerusalem, over the issue of the new settlement construction announcements.
“Settlement expansion goes against the U.S. administration’s pledges and threatens to cause the negotiations’ collapse,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told the French news agency AFP following the announcement. “This settlement expansion is unprecedented. It threatens to make talks fail even before they’ve started.”