Clinton criticises Israel over E.Jerusalem demolition

RAMALLAH, West Bank,  (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of  State Hillary Clinton criticised Israel yesterday over plans  to demolish Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem and said  Washington would engage Israeli leaders on Jewish settlements.

Calling the planned destruction of more than 80 dwellings  “unhelpful,” Clinton said after talks with Palestinian leaders:  “It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of  Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem.”

Israel says the homes slated for demolition were built  without permits.   Palestinians say authorisation from Israel’s Jerusalem  municipality is nearly impossible to obtain. They accuse Israel  of trying to drive them out of East Jerusalem, captured in the  1967 war, to make room for Jewish families.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its “united and eternal”  capital, a claim that does not have international recognition.  The Palestinian Authority wants East Jerusalem to be the capital  of a Palestinian state.

At a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud  Abbas in the occupied West Bank, Clinton stopped short of  repeating U.S. calls for an immediate cessation of Israeli  settlement expansion but promised to follow up on the issue.

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