Israel to advance east Jerusalem building plans

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is moving forward with plans for two major settlement projects in east Jerusalem, a spokeswoman said today, even as a senior Palestinian official warned that his government could pursue war crimes charges if Israel doesn't halt such construction.

International anger over Israeli settlement construction has snowballed in recent days, after last week's U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine — in lands Israel occupied in 1967 — as a nonmember observer in the General Assembly.

Israel retaliated for U.N. recognition of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem by announcing plans to build 3,000 homes for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem, known as E-1.

The Israeli reprisal has prompted the country's strongest Western allies to take an unusually strong line with the Jewish state.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that the latest Israeli building plans would make the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, "almost inconceivable."

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