Israel, on Monday, approved construction of forty new settlement housing units in the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.Each of the four buildings will house ten new apartments, and follow the approval of thirty two new units last month. These decisions come as part of a greater plan to build a total of two hundred and twenty new units in the settlement.

These decisions appear to come at a critical stage, with calls coming for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The P.A. has requested an extension of the freeze on construction of settlement housing units, due to end next month, but Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netenyahu, has described such a decision to be incomprehensible and “political suicide”.

This has not gone unnoticed within the committee that approved the construction plans. Speaking to Qatar’s al-Jazeera network, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Yosef Alalo, stated that although he has no principle objections to Pisgat Ze’ev,

‘[w]e are now at the most critical moment for negotiations, and such an approval is harmful.’

The chairman of the committee, Kobi Kahlon, took a distinctly more ideological stance towards the approval, declaring that it was a fundamental right of Israelis to live in East Jerusalem.

‘We don’t have the authority to deprive any man of the rights he deserves.”