Despite growing diplomatic pressure from world nations, Israel continues to plan settlements' construction, as means of punishment towards the Palestinian authority, amid its recent status upgrade in the United Nations.
Following the Palestinian authority's success at the UN, the Israeli cabinet announced Friday the construction of 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the controversial E1 stretch of land connecting them (preventing a territorial continuum for a future Palestinian State.)
The United States and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon along with other world nations denounced the move, calling it a blow to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli ambassadors were called for clarification talks in Britain, France and Sweden on Monday, according to reports.
However, that did not stop the Israeli Interior Ministry from announcing on Monday it is working to expedite proceedings in the construction of 1,700 new housing units in the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
On Tuesday, the diplomatic pressure from other nations continues to escalate, as Australia and Brazil summoned the Israeli ambassadors over the planned settlements' expansion.
Israel is also under fire for another punitive move it announced Sunday, of withholding more than 100 million U.S. dollars in tax revenue it collects for the Palestinian National Authority.
Egypt arranges for Hamas chief's first Gaza visit
Egypt is coordinating with Israel regarding the first ever visit of the head of Hamas' politburo, Khaled Mashaal, to the Gaza Strip, a Hamas official said Tuesday.
"The coordination is taking place within the framework of the recent ceasefire which Egypt brokered between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza," said Eissa Nashar, an adviser to Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haneya.
On Saturday, Yousef Rizka, another advisor of Haneya, said Mashaal would visit Gaza Thursday in his first trip to the territory that his movement had been ruling for years.
Mashaal and several members of the political bureau will go to Gaza to attend celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the Islamic movement, which took over Gaza by force in 2007.
At the time of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, some of Hamas leaders were unable to move freely in and out of the Gaza Strip due to the closure of the Rafah crossing.
Mashaal has been based in Damascus until the eruption of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Hamas official then moved to stay mainly in Doha, Qatar.