JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel invited bids on Monday to construct 77 new homes in two settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem, drawing a swift Palestinian condemnation.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the planned projects were a violation of international law and showed Israel was not interested in peace.
Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors and opposes settlement-building on land Palestinians seek for a state, said only tenders for 18 of the 77 units were new, and the others were reissued after previous offers were not taken up.
The Israel Lands Authority said 41 of the homes are to be built in Pisgat Ze‘ev and 36 in Neve Yaakov, where 63,000 Israelis already live.
The two settlements comprise mainly apartment blocs and are defined by Israel as integral neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Al-Malki told reporters in Ramallah: “Israel’s measures aim to hinder the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state that is geographically connected and to prevent the realization of the two-state solution.”
Most countries consider settlements that Israel has built on territory captured in a 1967 war illegal and obstacles to Palestinian statehood. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed a year ago, partly over the settlement issue.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is trying to form a governing coalition after his March election victory, has pledged to pursue settlement in East Jerusalem and other occupied areas which Israel says it intends to keep in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, a position that has not won international recognition.
Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Mark Heinrich