Israeli government officials announced plans Nov. 30 to build 3,000 settlement units in the so-called E-1 area of the occupied West Bank—a day after Palestine was admitted to the UN as an observer state in a vote opposed by the US and Israel. E1, lying between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim settlement bloc, is a particularly contentious area, as Palestinian leaders say settlements there will divide the West Bank and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he plans to "promote planning and construction" in the E-1 area.
The US State Department issued requisite protest of the announcement. The Palestinian Authority maintains it will not resume peace talks unless Israel freezes all settlement building. Israel agreed to freeze settlement building as part of the 2003 "roadmap for peace." Yet Israel accused the Palestinians of violating peace agreements by seeking their new UN status, and warned after the vote that it would respond accordingly. (Ma'an News Agency, Global Post, BBC News, Al Jazeera, Nov. 30)