Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Israel Approves Hundreds of New Settlement Homes

Israel approved building permits on Sunday for hundreds of homes in three East Jerusalem settlements, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, expecting him to row back on the last administration’s criticism of such projects.

The housing projects, on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state, had been taken off the Jerusalem municipality’s agenda in December at the last minute at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to avoid further censure from the administration of Barack Obama.

Israel’s right-wing expects Trump’s attitude towards settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, to be far more supportive than that of his predecessor.

Netanyahu said he would hold his first conversation with Trump since he took office, by telephone on Sunday. “Many matters face us, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat,” he said in broadcast remarks at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

Jerusalem’s City Hall approved the building permits for more than 560 units in the urban settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo and Ramot, areas annexed to Jerusalem in a move unrecognized internationally.

Meir Turgeman, the chairman of the municipality’s Planning and Building committee, told Israel Radio that the permits had been held up until the end of the Obama administration.

“I was told to wait until Trump takes office because he has no problem with building in Jerusalem,” Turgeman said, adding there were hundreds more units waiting for approval.

The Palestinians denounced the move. “We strongly condemn the Israeli decision to approve the construction,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.

In its final weeks, the Obama administration angered the Israeli government by withholding a traditional U.S. veto of an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council, enabling the measure to pass.

Trump’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, echoed his condemnation of the world body over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

In a proposal that has drawn a Palestinian outcry, Trump has also pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel sees all Jerusalem as is its capital but most of the world does not, seeing its final status as a matter for peace negotiations. The Palestinians have said an embassy move would kill any prospect for peace. Negotiations broke down in 2014.

Trump has also appointed a new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is considered a settlements supporter.

Commentators in Israel have said it was too early to tell what Trump’s policy on these matters will actually be once he takes office.

Most countries consider settlement activity illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing a biblical, historical and political connection to the land – which the Palestinians also claim – as well as security interests.—Reuters

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.