"We conveyed official messages to the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to reverse this decision," he said. 

 

Israel's settlements have not been recognised internationally and the UN human rights council has previously voted in support of their removal.

 

Blocs linked

 

"[The project's]
sole purpose is to bring about a provocation that could jeopardise the relative calm in the city"

Pepe Alalou, Jerusalem city council official and  member of the opposition Meretz party

About 200,000 Jews already live in eastern Jerusalem among about 230,000 legally resident Palestinians.

 

If completed, the project would create a Jewish residential bloc linking Jerusalem with the southern bloc of Gush Etzion and northern settlements close to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

 

In addition, 500 homes would be built in the heart of occupied east Jerusalem, near the Palestinian area of Abu Dis.

 

Pepe Alalou, a Jerusalem city council official and a member of the opposition Meretz party, said the project's "sole purpose is to bring about a provocation that could jeopardise the relative calm in the city."

 

Report

 

The Jerusalem municipality several months ago rejected a plan to construct 20,000 homes in the western part of Jerusalem following opposition by environmentalists.

 

"After [that] plan was scrapped, the city had to look for other alternatives to provide housing for its growing population," Pollak said.

 

News of the project comes after the publication of a Israeli report that the number of Arabs living in Jerusalem has grown twice as fast as the city's Jewish population over the past decade.

 

The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies projected that the number of Jews in the city will drop to 60 per cent by 2020 from 66 per cent, with the Arab population rising from to 40 per cent from 34 per cent.

 

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state.