Eastern Jerusalem construction gets final go-ahead

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s housing minister granted the final approval for the construction of 300 homes in the eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Ramot.

Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party gave the go-ahead Thursday with the announcement of a building contractor, according to reports.

The construction had been approved months ago and was condemned by the international community.

Palestinian officials said the announcement would further delay the resumption of peace talks, which have been dormant for more than two years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing to restart the peace process.

Lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the French news agency AFP that Israel has “a systematic plan for destroying Kerry’s efforts which involves an escalation of settlement building, a displacement of the population of the Jordan Valley, an increase of settler attacks against our people and confiscation of our land.”

Israel accused the Palestinians of finding excuses not to return to the negotiating table.