Palestinians: settlement expansion means 1 state

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israel’s latest settlement plans will destroy any lingering hopes of setting up a Palestinian state next to Israel, a senior Palestinian official warned Tuesday, as international anger over the construction snowballed.

Israel announced the plans in response to last week’s U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel occupied in 1967, as a non-member observer at the General Assembly.

The plans include 3,000 more homes for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem, known as E-1.

Separately, Israel is moving forward with two major settlement projects in east Jerusalem. Israel would build more than 4,200 apartments in the two areas, Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos.

The Ramat Shlomo project touched off a diplomatic crisis with the U.S. in 2010 when the ministry gave it preliminary approval during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.

Israeli settlement construction lies at the heart of a four-year breakdown in peace talks, and was a major factor behind the Palestinians’ U.N. statehood bid. Since 1967, half a million Israelis have settled in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians say E-1 and Givat Hamatos are particularly problematic because they would cut off east Jerusalem, the intended Palestinian capital, from the rest of the West Bank.

Israel’s plans for E-1 and Givat Hamatos “will leave us with no peace process,” Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the Associated Press.

He later told Israel TV that “it’s over” if these two settlements are built.

“Don’t talk about peace, don’t talk about a two-state solution ... talk about a one-state reality between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean,” Erekat said, referring to the land that the international community hopes will one day accommodate both Israel and a Palestinian state.

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