JERUSALEM, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Israel's security cabinet led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to permit the construction of 3,000 more housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in an apparent retaliation against the Palestinians' successful statehood bid at the UN, Israeli media reported Friday.
The nine-member forum also decided to further the planning procedures of another 1,000 units in settlements, including the section connecting between Ma'aleh Adumim, the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, the reports said, quoting unnamed government officials.
The move comes less than 24 hours after the Palestinians won a vote at the UN General Assembly which upgraded the status of Palestine at the world body to that of a non-member observer state.
The officials further said that Israel is "considering more steps amid the Palestinians unilateral move in the UN," the Channel 10 News reported.
The sources also said that the construction in the settlements will be held in according with the "map of Israel's strategic interests," referring to the Israeli attempt to create a territorial strip to connect Jerusalem and the West Bank territories and reduce the territories of a Palestinian State in the future.
After the vote in favor of the Palestinians on Thursday night, Netanyahu's office released a statement calling the bid a " violation of existing agreements" with Israel and said it will " act accordingly" in response.
The UN vote in New York passed as 138 voted in favor, nine countries against it and 41 countries abstained. The success of the Palestinian Authority, contrarily, is a diplomatic failure for Israel, which has been under scores of criticism from the international community over its construction plans in the West Bank settlements.
Three weeks ago, Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized a plan to extend the West Bank settlement of Itamar, northeast of Nablus, with the construction of 538 new housing units.
In the past two months, the Housing Ministry announced tenders for nearly 2,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and in West Bank settlements situated beyond the 1967 line -- meaning lands that were annexed by Israel during the 1967 war.
The peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians came to a halt in 2010 over growing criticism of Israel's expansion of the West Bank settlements.
RAMALLAH, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian leadership on Friday condemned the Israeli government's decision to build new Jewish settlements a day after the Palestinians upgraded their UN status to a non-member state.
"This is a slap to the whole world which voted in favor of the Palestinian state," said Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency. "These are illegitimate and illegal acts," he said in remarks published on Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. Full story
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Friday that the Palestinians' elevated status through the United Nations and Israel's newly announced settlement activity are both counterproductive to their quest for peace.
Reiterating U.S. position on the upgraded status of non-member observer state the UN General Assembly voted for the Palestinians on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "We consider this unfortunate. We consider it counterproductive." Full story