Russia 'deeply concerned' over Israeli settlement move
Russia said on Wednesday that it was "deeply concerned" by Israel's decision to construct hundreds of new homes in east Jerusalem in a move to punish the Palestinians for joining UNESCO.
Israel's housing ministry said on Tuesday that it had published formal notice of its intention to invite tenders to build more than 800 new homes in two neighbourhoods of occupied and annexed east Jerusalem.
The announcement "can only provoke deep concern," said a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.
"Russia has on several occasions laid out its position on this problem -- all construction in occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, violates recognised norms of international law and must be stopped."
Israeli housing ministry spokesman Ariel Rosenberg told AFP the new tender was linked to a government directive to speed up settlement construction after the Palestinians won membership of the UN cultural organisation UNESCO.
Israel occupied the eastern sector of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
Since then, Israel has insisted that the whole of Jerusalem is its "eternal, indivisible capital" and does not consider construction in the east to be settlement building because the land falls within the city's municipal boundaries, which were drawn up after the 1967 war.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and adamantly oppose any Israeli attempt to extend its control over the sector.
© 2011 AFP