Israel begins the construction of new settlements inside the Palestinian territories in defiance of preconditions for resuming peace talks in the region.
"The works aim to build 60 housing units for Orthodox religious Jewish families right next to the Palestinian neighborhood of Arab al-Sawahra," the anti-settlement Peace Now spokeswoman, Hagit Ofran, told AFP on Monday.
The construction which was approved in 2000 "began two months ago as part of development of East Talpiot," she added.
The area is one of a dozen illegal settlements that Israel has built in east Jerusalem (al-Quds). Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, declaring the city its "eternal, undivided capital."
More than 285,000 Israelis currently live in the Jewish settlements which are considered as illegal by the international community.
"They aim to complete a belt of Jewish neighborhoods that will surround east Jerusalem and we are against this project, which is harming the hopes for peace," said Ofran.
The report came as acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the possibility of peace talks without an Israeli settlement freeze.
Denouncing the new settlement activity, Abbas said that Israel is defined by the borders it maintained before the 1967 Middle East War, "not one centimeter more."
He said the issue was "extensively discussed" during the November 2007 international conference in Annapolis, Ynet reported.
Abbas further reiterated that a complete halt in the construction of settlements is a prerequisite for resuming talks source
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