There's word today from The Associated Press that Jerusalem's municipality has approved plans for 20 new apartments in East Jerusalem. The project is being funded by Dr. Irving Moskowitz, a Jewish-American millionaire who reportedly made much of his money through operating a bingo club in California. Moskowitz plans to tear down part of an old Jerusalem hotel, and build the apartments and a three-level underground parking lot in its place.
The announcement is expected to further waylay peace talks between Israel and Palestine. The talks fell to the wayside during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel earlier this month. While he was there, Israel announced it planned to build 1,600 new units of housing in East Jerusalem. The U.S. is reportedly opposed to the plan because it's disruptive to Middle East peacemaking efforts. Palestinians have claimed East Jerusalem as their future capital. Israel annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war.
President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in closed door meetings to try to make some headway on the matter. The New York Times reports that the two failed to resove the impasse during the White House session.