Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr has condemned Israel’s decision to approve more than one thousand new homes for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem.
Amr stressed in a statement published on Thursday evening that “this action undermines efforts to resume negotiations”. Earlier in May it was announced that Israel had approved the building of 300 new settler homes near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly ordered a freeze on settlements in the West Bank at the beginning of May to avoid hindering United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart the peace process. The recent announcements of new settlements were approved before the freeze was ordered, according to AFP.
Amr also pointed to “repeated Israeli incursions of Al-Aqsa Mosque”, saying this expresses “contempt for the international community and the feelings of millions of Muslims”. Earlier in May Amr condemned Israeli policies towards Islam’s third holiest site, which he claimed are aimed at changing “the character of Jerusalem” and “burying the Islamic and Arabic identities of the Holy City”.
He added that if Israel continues in this way it will “not only lead to undermining the two-state solution, but will push the entire situation in the occupied territories to the edge of the abyss”.
The announcement of the new settler homes comes at a time when there are renewed efforts for the peace process, which has been on hold since 2010. Kerry recently travelled to Israel and the West Bank to meet with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to bring both sides to the negotiating table. This was his fourth trip to Israel since he was appointed secretary of state in February.
At the end of April Arab foreign ministers, including Amr, travelled to Washington DC to participate in an Arab Peace Initiative meeting with Kerry and US Vice-President Joe Biden to discuss ways of reviving the peace process.