Palestinian media sources reported on Tuesday that this week the Israeli Authorities began the construction of more housing units in a settlement located in the eastern part of the occupied city of Jerusalem.The additional constructions will include 60 housing units solely for the use of Jewish families; the location is the Ma’alih Hazim settlement built illegally in the Damascus gate area, a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem just outside of the old city.
The sources said that the settlement funding came mainly from the Jewish American millionaire Irphing Moscophitch, who funded the construction of Ma’alih Hazim several years ago.
In 1997 the construction in Ma’alih Hazim settlement was stopped due to world wide criticism especially from the US, a year later when Benjamin Netanyahu was the Prime Minister in Israel he ordered the construction to be resumed. Netanyahu is famous for supporting the settlers’ movement in Israel.
The settlement of Ma’alih Hazim currently houses 15 Jewish families who took over the land illegally from its Palestinian owners, if the settlement continues to exist it will stop any future plans to construct a safe road that will connect the occupied city of Jerusalem with the rest of the West Bank that is controlled by the Palestinians.
On Monday a new round of talks took place in Jerusalem between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams, core issues were discussed.
The core issues, which were the reason behind the failure of previous peace talks, are Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water, borders, and security.
Last week, during his visit to the region the U.S President George W. Bush, Palestinians and Israelis agreed to start their final status talks. The Palestinian Israeli peace process was reinstated last November during the US sponsored one day conference for Middle East peace that took place in Annapolis, Maryland USA.
In Annapolis Palestinians and Israelis agreed to restart talks on the basis of the Road Map Peace Plan that was orchestrated by Bush in 2002.
The Road Map Peace Plan states that Israel must stop its settlement activity in the Palestinian areas and stop attacking Palestinians; in return the Palestinian Authority will stop all armed resistance groups from attacking Israel.
Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem city that have been occupied since 1967, and continue to kill Palestinians, minutes after the meeting on Monday finished, the Israeli army killed three Palestinians during air strikes in Gaza. On Tuesday morning a ground invasion targeting the eastern part of the coastal region left seven dead, and more in a critical condition.