Abbas: New Israeli settlements 'red line'
An Israeli-Palestinian showdown over plans for new Jewish settlements around Jerusalem escalated on Wednesday.

Israel pushed the most contentious of the projects further along in the planning pipeline, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would seek UN Security Council help to block the construction.

Israel is moving ahead despite mounting international condemnation of its settlement plans, some of them activated last week in retaliation for the UN General Assembly's acceptance of a state of Palestine as a nonmember observer.

Israel has built dozens of settlements for half a million Israelis since its 1967 capture of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem – the lands the UN now says make up the state of Palestine.

The Palestinians are particularly concerned about plans for more than 7,500 apartments and hundreds of hotel rooms in two future settlements, known as E1 and Givat Hamatos, on the eastern and southern edges of Jerusalem.

Critics say the settlements would cut off traditionally Arab east Jerusalem from its West Bank hinterland and destroy hopes for a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Israel had frozen E1 plans under pressure from successive US administrations, but it revived them last week after UN recognition of Palestine. Actual construction may still be years away.

Israel's announcement of the planned construction met harsh international criticism. The US said it was "shocked" by the move, and Israeli ambassadors in Egypt, France, the UK, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Ireland and Finland were summoned by the respective capitals for clarification on Tuesday.
Posted by: tipper 2012-12-05