Jerusalem City Hall will authorize the construction of thousands of new housing units in neighborhoods over the Green Line in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, officials said.
Some 7,000 housing units have been frozen due to political pressure from the government fearful of antagonizing Washington, said Meir Turgeman, the head of the Jerusalem Municipality Planning and Construction Committee.
Some 3,000 units are ready for approval in Gilo, 2,600 in Givat Hamatos and 1,500 in Givat Shlomo.
“We kept getting calls. The director general of the Prime Minister’s Office would always call the mayor and say don’t discuss these now, don’t authorize, it’s a sensitive time,” Turgeman told Israel Radio.
While much of the international community considers these neighborhoods as settlements, Israel considers them neighborhoods of annexed East Jerusalem and argues that it will be part of Israel in any negotiated peace agreement.
The US has been vehemently opposed to Israeli construction in areas Israel captured after the 1967 Six Day War, saying it undermines the prospects of a two-state solution.
Now that Trump, who has indicated he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there, has been elected, Turgeman expects to be able to approve the new housing unhindered.
“Now that Trump [won], I hope will put Jerusalem as a priority, I hope we are heading for a fresh start,” said Turgeman. “All these plans in Givat Hamatos, Gilo, Ramat Shlomo, all these have been waiting for two years at least.”
In 2010, a major diplomatic rift was sparked when the Interior Ministry approved new housing in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, over the Green Line, while US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting.
Senior officials said the move was made without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s knowledge. According to a diplomatic cable leaked earlier this year, Netanyahu turned to European leaders to help patch up ties with Obama in the wake of the affair.