Israel will not give up control over the E1 corridor between the capital and Ma’aleh Adumim to the east, nor is building in Jerusalem a topic for discussion in negotiations, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday, as the international outcry against Israel’s plans to expand building in both areas ramped up.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed his statements Tuesday, saying that Israel would not back down from building in East Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel, and we will continue to build there,” Netanyahu said.
He added Israelis overwhelmingly believed in “united Jerusalem.”
Rivlin also upbraided European parliamentarians, who he said are worrying too much about Palestinian statehood and not enough about the continued existence of the State of Israel.
On Monday, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the construction of 1,500 apartment units in the largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, effectively unfreezing Jewish construction in the eastern part of the capital, a move that garnered condemnation by the US. An additional project, in the southern neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, could ultimately include up to 2,600 housing units.
A European diplomat said Germany and three other European members of the UN Security Council were preparing a statement condemning the plan in East Jerusalem and plans to build in the West Bank.
The so-called E4 grouping — Britain, France, Germany and Portugal — has expressed concerns that such activities could threaten the possible two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
The diplomat said the details of the joint statement are being finalized.
Last month the government approved several West Bank and East Jerusalem construction projects totaling some 3,000 homes, including building in the E1 corridor east of Jerusalem, following the United Nations General Assembly’s decision to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state.
Ilan Ben-Zion and Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report.