Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 14:02 UK

Jerusalem settlement 'extended'

Israeli settlement in east Jerusalem
Israel has built tens of thousands of homes for Jews in East Jerusalem

Construction has begun on approximately 60 new homes in a Jewish settlement in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli campaign group Peace Now says.

The work, in East Talpiot settlement, is aimed at creating a belt around East Jerusalem that would sever it from the rest of the West Bank, the group says.

Settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law.

Israel disputes this and also argues that East Jerusalem is not subject to its pledge to freeze settlement work.

Israel's claim is based on its annexation of East Jerusalem, unrecognised by the international community, which it captured along with the West Bank and other Arab territory in the 1967 war.

Israelis view settlements such as East Talpiot as neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Such areas tend to be well integrated into the city's infrastructure.

'Not one centimetre'

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran said the work in East Talpiot in south-east Jerusalem aims to build "housing units for Orthodox religious Jewish families right next to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Arab al-Sawahra".

The housing complex is made up of three blocks of flats containing about 60 homes, Peace Now says.

"We are against this project, which is harming the hopes for peace," Ms Ofran said in remarks to AFP news agency.

Jerusalem municipal officials declined to comment about the building work, which Peace Now said began two months ago.

Successive Israeli governments have asserted that East Jerusalem is an "eternal, indivisible" part of Israel.

In a speech in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not give in to Israeli or international pressure to resume negotiations if settlement construction continues.

"All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimetre more, not one centimetre less. Anything else, I don't accept," Mr Abbas said.

About 200,000 Israeli Jews live in homes in East Jerusalem, with a further 250,000 settlers living in other parts of the West Bank, on land Palestinian negotiators have sought as part of a future Palestinian state.

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