Committee approves East Jerusalem building permits

Committee approves East Jerusalem building permits

Of the 306 units, 28 were new submissions, while remainder were renewals that had previously been okayed

A view of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, most of which lies over the Green Line. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A view of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, most of which lies over the Green Line. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved building permits on Wednesday for 306 housing units in neighborhoods over the Green Line.

Of the permits, 28 were new submissions, while 216 had previously been approved and were being renewed, all in the neighborhood of Ramot, most of which lies over the Green Line. Another 62 previously approved permits were renewed for Har Homa.

The mayor’s office said that the plans “received approval years ago,” and the developers had sought to renew the “validity of the plans in order to be eligible for building permits.”

“The municipality will not freeze construction for Jews in the capital of Israel,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, asserting that building in Jerusalem is “essential” to the city’s growth.

The approvals from the local committee came on the heels of the district committee’s approval of 500 units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, which drew criticism from the US and outright condemnation from the Palestinian side.

Chief Palestinian negotiator to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Saeb Erekat called the Ramat Shlomo move “a slap in the face” to the US and international community, adding that it sent a clear message that “the Netanyahu government chooses settlements over negotiations.”

The Ramat Shlomo plan is part of a larger development project that envisions some 1,000 apartments in Jerusalem neighborhoods that lie over the pre-1967 line that separated Israeli and Jordanian-controlled areas of the city, the so-called Green Line.

While Israel considers East Jerusalem part of its capital, the international community has routinely condemned building there as settlement construction that is unhelpful to the peace process with the Palestinians.

The announcements come amid heightened tensions and a string of violent incidents in Jerusalem. Last week, a prominent Temple Mount activist was shot and seriously injured by a Palestinian suspect, who was later killed in a shootout with police. The shooting was bookended by days of violent protests in East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.

The news of the 1,000 homes drew condemnation from the US, the EU, Jordan and the Palestinians.

In early October, Washington leveled especially harsh criticism at Jerusalem for a plan to develop a new neighborhood in the area of Givat Hamatos, saying the East Jerusalem construction would “poison the atmosphere” and distance Israel “from even its closest allies.”

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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