The Jerusalem municipality is set to approve building permits for some 300 new housing units in East Jerusalem on Monday, potentially adding to already high tensions over the city.
The new homes will be in eight buildings in the west of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, a majority Jewish area on the southern end of the city near Bethlehem, according to the committee’s schedule, seen by the Times of Israel on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, had reportedly asked Israel not to do anything that would inflame the region following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, including approval of new homes over the Green Line, Hadashot news reported recently.
Tensions have ramped up in the region since Trump’s December 6 announcement, with weekly clashes in the West Bank and Gaza.
Some of the buildings were part of an Israel Lands Authority tender for 708 units in Gilo in 2014 that were blamed for the collapse of US-led peace talks.
Construction on two of the buildings has already begun, according to the report.
Aviv Tatarsky, from left-wing organization Ir Amim, criticized the planned move.
“These are lands expropriated from the village of Walaja, which is located on the other side of the wadi, an aerial distance of several dozen meters from the new building,” he told The Times of Israel, referring to a Palestinian village in the West Bank. “The same government that is promoting large-scale construction in Gilo refuses to approve master plans in Walaja and is working to demolish a large part of the village. Anyone who thinks that, on one side of the wadi Israelis can live comfortably, while on the other side Palestinians cannot be safe in their homes, is making a serious mistake that we will all pay for.”
Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by much of the international community. The country regards the city its undivided capital and reserves the right to build in any part of it. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Previous building projects in the eastern part of the city have drawn condemnations.
Earlier this month, bolstered by US President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it was reported that the government was planning to build around 14,000 units in the city, some 6,000 of them in East Jerusalem, though none in Gilo.
“Following President Trump’s historic declaration, I intend to advance and strengthen building in Jerusalem,” Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) was quoted as saying.