Israeli plan for new East Jerusalem settler homes criticised

The UN said the development would "consolidate a ring of settlements" between Jerusalem and Bethlehem

The United Nations and European Union have criticised an Israeli plan to build 1,250 homes for Jewish settlers on the edge of occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel has invited bids for the construction in the Givat Hamatos area.

A UN envoy warned it would damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian state.

Under President Trump the US has taken a permissive approach to settlement activity, but President-elect Joe Biden is expected to change that.

European diplomats who visited the area on Monday to protest against the plan were heckled by Israeli nationalists.

A video posted by Israeli public broadcaster Kann showed a crowd shouting “shame on you” at the diplomats, and accusing them of anti-Semitism and supporting terrorism.

Anti-settlement groups meanwhile said they believed Israeli officials were hurrying through the project before President-elect Biden took office.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.

Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

The plan for the construction of 1,257 housing units in Givat Hamatos was revived Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, having previously been frozen for years because of international opposition.

On Sunday, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) asked building contractors to submit bids by 18 January.