PA to U.S.: Israel violating talks terms


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of violating the terms of newly started indirect peace talks.

Two days after the start of proximity talks with Israel, the first peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in 18 months, the Palestinian Authority on Monday reported to the United States that Israel is allowing the construction of homes in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood.

The construction of 14 homes in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem was reported Sunday by Peace Now.

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the homes were being built privately and that the government had no authority to stop it.

The plan for the land on which an old Israeli police station formerly sat and which is owned by an American businessman includes 104 housing units, Peace Now said.  The plans also reportedly include a swimming pool, community library, synagogue, kindergartens and a mikveh. The project would link to two other Jewish enclaves in the neighborhood.

Some 14,000 Palestinians live in Ras el-Amud.

Meanwhile, in a statement released late Sunday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat rejected reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised not to build in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood for the next two years.

"The real test is the test of actions, Barkat said. "The Municipality of Jerusalem continues to promote planning and construction throughout the city for all its residents — Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We expect that the Israeli Government will react to the public demand of both the Arab and Jewish sectors and enable the construction of housing for the young population that is leaving the city because of a shortage of affordable housing.

"We trust that the Prime Minister will not allow a freeze in Jerusalem — not in words and not in actions."

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