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Housing Ministry seeking to advance E J’lem construction before Bennett’s expected US visit

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

A housing construction site in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, October 27, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A housing construction site in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, October 27, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Housing Ministry is seeking to advance a controversial housing project in East Jerusalem in the weeks ahead of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s expected visit to Washington.

The ministry placed a 9,000 housing unit plan to expand the Atarot neighborhood on the agenda for a December meeting of the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, the Walla news site reported today.

An official in Bennett’s Yamina party confirms to The Times of Israel the plan was indeed placed on the docket, but says the Prime Minister’s Office wasn’t notified in advance of the move.

Last week, a coalition source close to Bennett told The Times of Israel that the PMO was considering working to delay an upcoming verdict in the controversial Sheikh Jarrah eviction cases that were heard by the Supreme Court today due to concerns that a ruling against the Palestinian families my strain relations with the US ahead of Bennett’s trip.

The Atarot project would only receive initial planning approval if it remains on the agenda for December and still will require several subsequent authorizations before ground can be broken, but any advancement of the East Jerusalem plan stalled for several years due to international pressure would be significant.

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