There was another step backwards in the elusive quest for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians today as construction began on new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.  Bulldozers razed the Shepherd’s Hotel in a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood to make way for a new apartment complex for Jewish Israelis.

Everyone from Ban Ki Moon to Hilary Clinton have deplored this move. Here’s the United States Secretary of State:

We are very concerned about the initiation of demolition of the Shepherd’s Hotel in East Jerusalem.  This disturbing development undermines peace efforts to achieve the two state-solution. In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties should mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.  Ultimately, the lack of a resolution to this conflict harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms the U.S. and the international community. We will continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues, including Jerusalem, in the context of a peace agreement.

And the UN Secretary General:

The Secretary-General deplores yesterday’s destruction of the Shepherd’s Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for new settlement units in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood, which only serves to heighten tensions. It is deeply regrettable that growing international concern at unilateral expansion of illegal Israeli settlements is not being heeded. Such actions seriously prejudice the possibility of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Secretary-General once again calls on the Government of Israel to take whatever steps are necessary to freeze settlement activity anywhere in occupied territory.

It is hard to see how this move is even remotely in the interests of peace. In the meantime, Laura Rozen reports that the project developer is a big donor to the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Oy.

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