Egypt slams 'unjustified' East Jerusalem settlement plans

Egypt slams 'unjustified' East Jerusalem settlement plans
Cairo accuses Israel of hindering peace efforts as building plans in the occupied West Bank are given the green light.
2 min read
08 July, 2016
Israel's Beitar Illit illegal settlement [AFP]

Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday condemning new building permits announced by Israel last week as being obstructive to regional peace. 
"The Israeli escalation is unjustified and incomprehensible, particularly because it coincides with regional and international efforts aimed at encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to build an environment of trust in order to resume negotiations," Cairo said.

The new permits were approved on Sunday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman - the hardline settler controversially appointed to the Israeli cabinet earlier this year.

Included in the approval are some 800 new homes in the Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and the nearby West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.

Sunday's announcement was by reports on Wednesday from Israel's Channel 2 that the government was pushing ahead with a plan to allocate NIS 50 Million ($12.8 million) to Jewish neighbourhoods in Hebron and the settlement on Kiryat Arba.

Egypt has recently stepped up its involvement in trying to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry having been among the international conference in Paris in June aimed at reviving the two-state peace process.

Along with Egypt, many other countries joined in raising concern over the announced settlement expansion, including the United States and the United Nations.

The US State Department issued a strongly worded statement that highlighted Israel's systematic seizure of Palestinian land and questioned the Jewish state's committment to the peace process.

Netanyahu, however, brushed off international criticism by saying that "Building in Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim is not, with all due respect, distancing peace."