In a press statement Wednesday morning, Fattouh made clear that the Israeli Occupation Forces are preventing 50 per cent of Gaza imports to pass due to excuses that are unsubstantiated and unconvincing.
Fattouh pointed out that most of the prohibited material belongs to the building and construction sector, which increased the housing problem in the strip that had been piling up for four years.
The Occupation Forces’ decision to close the Karam Abu Salem crossing into Gaza on Wednesday – the only crossing operating out of four, three of which were already closed – is expected to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Gaza according to Fattouh.
Fattouh warned that if the International Community does not move to pressure Israel to allow vital and necessary material to pass, a serious humanitarian crisis will take place.
The Palestinian Authority had agreed with Israel three months back to close al-Mentar – the major crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Goods were allowed to pass through Karam Abu Salem instead despite its distant location and its lower capacity for the passage of goods.
Israel had eased its four-year-blockade on Gaza due to the Freedom Flotilla episode in May 2010.
Elisha Peleg, from the right-wing Likud party, confirmed that the new construction in Gilo, close to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, had been approved during an afternoon session of the district planning council.
“Of course we approved it, it is only the first step,” he told AFP, saying it was approved by five in favor and one against.
The municipality said this project was in addition to an earlier tranche of more than 900 new homes in Gilo approved in November 2009, which brought sharp condemnation from Washington which expressed “dismay” over the move.
The latest decision came a day ahead of a top-level meeting at the White House between Israeli President Shimon Peres and US President Barack Obama.
Gilo lies in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
Israel considers both halves of the Holy City its “eternal, indivisible” capital, and does not view construction in the east to be settlement activity.
The Palestinians, however, want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and fiercely contest any actions to extend Israel’s control over the sector.
The Palestinians condemned the move and said they would appeal to the international community to pressure Israel to respect international law.
“We strongly condemn the decision of the Jerusalem municipality to build 942 new homes in Gilo,” said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat. “This decision proves once again that Israel has chosen settlements over peace.”
Some 180,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem alongside nearly 270,000 Palestinians.
On Friday Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said that an Israeli landowner was seeking to sell plots for 30 homes in another mainly Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem, where 117 settler families already live.
The international community has repeatedly called on Israel to avoid new building projects in East Jerusalem.
US-brokered peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are deadlocked over the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The Palestinians walked out of direct peace talks three weeks after they started last September when Israel refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.
They refuse to negotiate with Israel while it builds on land which would be a Palestinian state in a peace agreement.
In March 2010, the interior ministry announced a plan to build 1,600 Jewish-only homes in Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem.
The announcement, which came as US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, provoked fierce American opposition and soured relations with Washington for several months.