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Plan for 1,500 homes in East Jerusalem reportedly frozen

Ministries, Netanyahu’s office at odds over whether delay in Har Homa construction is politically motivated

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A construction worker next to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa in October, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
A construction worker next to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa in October, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A large construction plan for 1,500 housing units in the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa has been frozen by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Hebrew media Ynet website reported Wednesday.

According to the report, the project was supposed to have been reviewed at a Jerusalem Municipality Local Planning meeting and then followed up at a Jerusalem District Planning meeting of the Interior Ministry next week.

However, the Housing Ministry, which initiated the plan, and the municipality both claimed the agenda item was removed from the schedules of the meetings.

The Ynet news website cited unnamed sources involved in the plan as saying it was put on hold for diplomatic reasons and that the Prime Minister’s Office did not approve it being reviewed at the meeting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press during a visit in Har Homa, in East Jerusalem, on March 16, 2015, prior to the national Israeli elections (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press during a visit in Har Homa, in East Jerusalem, on March 16, 2015, prior to the national Israeli elections (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The report comes as ties between Washington and Jerusalem have sunk to new depths over what the US says is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recently stated objection to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, among other issues.

The Har Homa neighborhood, also known as Homat Shmuel, sits over the Green Line in an area the Palestinians claim for a future state of their own.

Israeli construction projects in Jerusalem neighborhoods over the Green Line have drawn harsh international condemnation in the past, including from the US.

The PMO denied the claim that the move was diplomatically motivated and argued that the municipality and the housing ministry had not presented the plan to the office for approval before submitting it to the planning meetings.

An Interior Ministry spokesperson told The Times of Israel that the plan, known as Homat Shmuel 5, had never even been on the schedule of its Jerusalem regional meeting.

The Jerusalem city hall told Ynet that when it became aware that the plan was not to be discussed at the more influential district meeting, the municipality removed it from its own local meeting.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and maintains that it has the right to build in any area of the capital.

In October, the US said it was “deeply concerned” by Israeli plans to build 400 units in Har Homa and 660 more homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem, also over the Green Line.

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