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Arafat: Housing plan violates peace process

Israel denies deal linked to Palestinian acceptance

In this story: February 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT)

NABLUS, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on Thursday criticized Israel's decision to build housing for Jews in Arab east Jerusalem, saying it was a violation of Israeli-Palestinian peace moves.

"This is a big breaching to what had been agreed upon and it is against the United Nations resolutions and also against the American letter of guarantees and against all the agreements that had been signed," Arafat told reporters upon arriving in Nablus from Gaza for a visit.

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Israel enraged Palestinians on Wednesday when the government approved the first stage of plans to build 6,500 housing units on Jabal Abu Ghneim, known by Israelis as Har Homa, in east Jerusalem on land captured by Israel along with the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians view the neighborhood, which completes a ring of Jewish apartment blocks around Jerusalem, as an attempt to block the possibility of east Jerusalem becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Also Thursday, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to withdraw from 10 percent of the West Bank, a much larger area than expected, if Arafat's self-rule government quietly accepted construction of the Jewish housing development.


Israel denies deal

However, David Bar-Ilan, senior adviser to Netanyahu, told CNN there is no deal with Arafat to increase the Israeli redeployment from the West Bank.

Bar-Ilan said the exact percentage of the pullout will be determined in a meeting next week. He says it will be higher than previously expected but insists the increase and exact percentage will have nothing to do with the Har Homa settlements in east Jerusalem.

Palestinian Justice Minister Freih Abu Medeen also denied the report. "I do not believe that any Palestinian would indulge in such an operation," he said.

Under a 1993 peace deal that launched limited Palestinian self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel agreed to discuss the future of Jerusalem during talks on a permanent peace settlement. The talks, which began last year, are due to resume next month.

Israel handed over most of the West Bank town of Hebron in January and agreed to carry out three stages of further redeployments by mid-1998.

Details of the withdrawal agreement

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