(JTA) — Palestinian officials said Israel’s announcement of the construction of 240 new units in eastern Jerusalem was a further blow to renewed peace talks.
Israel’s Housing Ministry said last Friday that among 3,500 tenders throughout Israel, 240 were approved for units in Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, in northeastern Jerusalem, Haaretz reported.
"The Netanyahu government is determined to thwart any chance of resuming direct negotiations," Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, said in response.
The announcement was the first major building start in eastern Jerusalem since an announcement in March of plans for 1,600 units during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. That announcement and its timing precipitated months of tensions between the Netanyahu and Obama administrations.
Israel has said it will not freeze building anywhere in Jerusalem, which Israel considers sovereign territory.