New plans by Israel for construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a retaliation against the new unity government of the Palestinians that is supported by Hamas have added to an already tense situation between the U.S. government and Israel. The plans also prompted threats on Thursday from some Palestinian officials of countermeasures.
The Housing Ministry in Israel published on Wednesday bids for the new construction of close to 1,500 housing units across various different settlements in what Uri Ariel the housing minister said was the appropriate response to the terror government of the Palestinians being established.
Palestinian officials became furious over the announcement. The official Palestinian spokesperson for President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday the Palestinian Authority would respond in a way that was unprecedented to the step made by Israel. However, the spokesperson would not elaborate any further.
The chief negotiator in the peace talks for the Palestinians Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians believe the latest Israeli announcement is a sign that a major escalation is in the works by Israel.
This latest move by Israel comes at a time of dispute between the Obama administration and Israel about the newly formed unity Palestinian government which came to fruition following a recent reconciliation between the Abbas led Palestine Liberation Organization and the Islamist militant organization Hamas that has been in control since 2007 of Gaza.
Israel has urged the shunning of the new Palestinian government by the rest of the world. The new government on Monday was sworn in. Israel wants it shunned due to it being supported by Hamas, which has been named by the U.S., Israel and much of the West as a terrorist group and has refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist.
However, the cabinet in the new Palestinian government is composed largely of Palestinian professionals who have no formal ties with Fatah the mainstream party of Abbas or with Hamas.
The cabinet has declared itself committed to the peaceful program of Abbas and to the international principles such as the recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence.
Because of that, the White House administration agreed to continue working with the government of the Palestinians and to provide them with aid while monitoring them very closely.