View of Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. (Wikipedia) (Wikipedia)
Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke. (bankinfosecurity.com)

The US criticized Israel for authorizing long-planned construction in Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, saying it would harm the already-moribund peace process.

The US Department of State criticized Israel after the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved the construction of 900 homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in the northern part of the city. Construction was postponed in 2010 at the request of the Obama administration, which was concerned that it would disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Israeli interior ministry announced in 2010 that 1,600 new homes would be built in Ramat Shlomo, which is located over the 1949 Armistice Line along the boundary between the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In response, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand that construction be canceled. Netanyahu did not cancel the housing plan, but he agreed to postpone construction for at least two years.

“This is a disappointing development as the new Israeli government has been announced – and we are concerned about it. We need to see commitment for the two-state solution in the actions of the new government,” said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke. “Building in east Jerusalem is damaging and inconsistent with the commitment to the two-state solution. We continue to engage with the highest levels of the Israeli government, and we continue to make our position clear that we view this as illegitimate.”

Peace negotiations came to a standstill in April 2014, when the Palestinian Authority formed a unity government with Hamas. This step was a violation of the Oslo Accords on which the peace process is premised, as Hamas does not recognize Israel, nor is it willing to uphold Palestinian agreements with Israel. Since then, the Palestinian Authority has taken a number of unilateral steps to achieve Palestinian statehood, including attempting recognition by the UN Security Council and joining the International Criminal Court.

The Jerusalem Municipality defended the decision, saying, “New construction in Jerusalem is necessary for the development of the city and in order to give young people and students the opportunity to live and buy houses in the capital.” The Municipality also noted that it the construction is part of Jerusalem’s long-term urban planning for both Jews and Arabs.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel