Netanyahu okays 1,000 new East Jerusalem homes

Plan calls for roughly 400 new housing units in Har Homa, 660 in Ramat Shlomo

Bird's-eye view of Ramat Shlomo, March 1, 2013 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Bird's-eye view of Ramat Shlomo, March 1, 2013 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommended that plans be advanced for about 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem, sources told The Times of Israel Tuesday.

The plan calls for roughly 400 units in Har Homa, in the city’s southeast, and 660 homes in Ramat Shlomo, in the northeast corner of the capital, according to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu will also push new infrastructure projects in the West Bank, including roads that will also serve the Palestinian population, a PMO source said.

The order comes on the heels of a report on Israel’s Channel 2 news Sunday night that Netanyahu is in negotiations with right-wing lawmakers and settler officials over approval for a large West Bank development project, including 2,000 new units, 12 new roads, parks, student villages, and renovation of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The PMO declined to comment on that report.

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Netanyahu’s new Jerusalem building plans come ahead of a meeting Tuesday in which the regional planning committee for Jerusalem is expected to approve 1,600 new apartments in Ramat Shlomo as part of an earlier plan that was temporarily halted at the request of the US after its announcement sparked a major controversy following the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as an independent state in 2012, Israel daily Haaretz reported last week.

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.

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.”

On Sunday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned that the reported plan for a major new West Bank development project could further sour ties with the US, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the move was irresponsible.

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