Israel Approves Construction of New Jerusalem Neighborhood

The Jerusalem planning and building committee approved on Wednesday a plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem of Shuafat, Israel Radio reported.

The plan includes three new five-story buildings, which will be erected on a 5,000-meter plot, and will be funded by American-Jewish millionaire Irving Moskovich, rightist activist Arie King told Army Radio.

Netanyahu’s government and Ehud Barak’s behavior in East Jerusalem resembles that of gangs and theft in broad daylight,” Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh said in response to the decision.

“These decisions are not conditions to begin negotiations, but rather tools of destruction which crush every glimmer of hope for peace,” he added.

Earlier the committee approved the construction of four residential buildings on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, which are expected to enter construction before the end of the month.

On Sunday, left-wing party Meretz appealed against the request of HaMa’ayan, a firm supported by the Elad settlement organization, for the construction in East Jerusalem, resulting in a decision to hold another vote of the city council.

This time, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will be required to take a clear stance on his view on new Jewish construction in East Jerusalem.

Sources in the municipality maintain that the matter is apolitical, and has to do with privately owned land, but sources in Meretz say they hope the political leadership will pressure Barkat to reject the request for new construction, at least temporarily.

Meanwhile, there is confidence on the right that approval of the construction will be finalized in the near future.

At the vote of the municipal committee for planning and construction on Monday it was decided to authorize four plans that will expand the built-up area in the Beit Orot yeshiva complex, which is situated at the edge of the Palestinian village of A-Tur. Accordingly, four three-storey structures will be built, with a total capacity of 24 apartments.

The yeshiva’s management refused to clearly answer yesterday whether this would constitute the core of a new neighborhood that would be built close to the yeshiva, or simply buildings for the families of those studying or employed by the institution.

The White House recently made clear in a statement that it opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, which is predominantly Arab and tapped by the Palestinians to be the capital of a future state.

“Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally preempt, or appear to preempt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said last week.

This story "Israel Approves Construction of New Jerusalem Neighborhood" was written by Yair Ettinger (Haaretz).

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