The United States and European Union on Monday slammed Israeli plans to build a Jewish neighborhood in the Arab enclave of Abu Dis on the eastern outskirts of Israel’s capital.
Washington and Brussels issued the condemnations as the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee met to advance the plan into the final stages before construction can start in the coming months.
“Our views have been clear and consistent: The expansion of settlements undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution, exacerbates tensions, and further harms trust between the two parties,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said at Monday’s press briefing.
“We strongly oppose the advancement of settlements and urge Israel to refrain from this activity. We take the issue very seriously, as it impinges on the viability of a two-state solution. We raise it at the highest levels on a consistent basis,” he added.
An E.U. spokesperson said that its position remains that Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria is “illegal according to international law and a major obstacle to achieving a two-state solution.
“The E.U. has consistently made it clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 lines, including in Jerusalem, other than those agreed upon by the parties,” the spokesperson added.
The neighborhood, to have 400 housing units, will be named Kedmat Tzion. Ten Jewish families currently live there in three buildings purchased by Ateret Cohanim, a nonprofit that encourages Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem.
Abu Dis, located east of the Silwan/Shiloach neighborhood and the City of David archaeological site, partly falls within Jerusalem but the majority of it is in Area B of Judea, under Palestinian Authority civil supervision and Israeli security control.
It is home to 15,000 Arab residents, the main campus of Al-Quds University, an Islamic college, P.A. government institutions and a large five-story building meant to house a future Palestinian Authority parliament.
Abu Dis had been named in previous negotiations as a possible capital of a “Palestinian” state.