US, UN both criticize growth of Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have both said a planned addition of 900 new homes for Gilo, an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem will harm Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Gilo is built on land captured during the Six Day War in 1967 and then annexed to the Jerusalem municipality. Settlements on occupied territory are generally considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. This represents the second time in two months that the Obama administration has spoken out on settlements. The Palestinian Authority has insisted on a halt to all settlement construction before it will attend any new peace talks, after the previous discussions were suspended last year. The feeling now is that Israel's PM Netanyahu has checked Obama's first diplomatic entry into the now-stalled MidEast peace process, warding off calls by the US for a full freeze on new settlements, although some veteran observers say it is way way too early to write off Obama's efforts as there is still plenty of time on the clock. - for the Obama administration. Around 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built on occupied territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. For more, read the BBC News.
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